4 Common Betaine HCl Mistakes

Supplementing with Betaine HCL

This might seem crazy, but stomach acid really is good for you. Without it, your health suffers.

In fact, taking Betaine HCl to improve my stomach acid saved my digestion.

And if you’re unknowingly suffering from Low Stomach Acid like I was, it could help you too. Here are some signs that you might be suffering from low stomach acid:

  • Indigestion
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Undigested food in your stool
  • Acid reflux
  • GERD
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Malabsorption
  • Nutrient deficiencies

If you have these symptoms and you’re not sure if you have low stomach acid, please read this:

Hypochlorhydria: 3 Common Signs of Low Stomach Acid

Is Leaky Gut Making You Sicker?


It seems counter-intuitive, but supplementing with Hydrochloric Acid (HCl) in the form of Betaine HCl can dramatically help people with low stomach acid. If you’re one of them, it’s about as close to a “magic pill” as you’re ever going to get.

But supplementing with stomach acid is not your ordinary run-of-the mill grocery store supplement.

Taking Betaine HCl is Serious Business.

I made a lot of painful mistakes taking Betaine HCl over the years… and what’s worse is I’m seeing those same mistakes in our private 1-on-1 clients.

These mistakes can cause Betaine HCl not to work and make symptoms much worse than they already are.

So in this post, we’re going to cover four common mistakes people make supplementing with Betaine HCl. Because this simple supplement can dramatically help those that need it, but hurt those who don’t use it properly.

Mistake 1: Using Betaine HCl When You’re Not Supposed To

In Dr. Jonathan Wright’s book, Why Stomach Acid is Good for You, he explains that:

“HCl should never be taken by anyone who is also using any kind of anti-inflammatory medication such as corticosteroids (e.g., Prednisone), aspirin, Indocin, ibuprofen (e.g., Motrin, Advil), or other NSAIDs. These drugs can initiate damage to the GI lining that supplementary HCl might aggravate, increasing the risk of gastric bleeding or ulcer.”

He goes on to warn:

“A much greater proportion of ‘newbies’ have taken, or are still taking, medication that could adversely interact with HCl and pepsin supplements. The same medications (mostly anti-inflammatories, but other medications, too) can seriously weaken the stomach lining to the point where it cannot handle HCl even if it is really needed.”

This warning is especially important for many of us with Inflammatory Bowel Disease because we’re highly likely to be currently taking Prednisone, or to have taken it in the past.

Dr. Wright does point out that several of his patients have taken Betaine HCl while on corticosteroids, but where does that leave you if you’re in this high risk group? 

Solution: if you’re not sure if you should take Betaine HCl, work with a skilled practitioner that knows about low stomach acid. And when in doubt… don’t use it. Instead, consider trying Digestive Bitters, which are a safe, natural stomach stimulants that can restore normal stomach acid production in some cases.

Mistake 2: Taking Betaine HCl without Pepsin

There’s a huge selection of Betaine HCl supplements on the market right now. The strange thing is many don’t contain Pepsin.


The above screencap is part of one of my crazy digestion mind maps. In it, you should see that a stomach that doesn’t produce enough HCl also won’t make enough pepsin.

And without pepsin… we can’t break down proteins into the peptides required for proper absorption (that’s really important).

I will say, I have read a few examples of people that were sensitive to pepsin and if that’s the case for you, taking a Betaine HCl supplement without pepsin could help. However, from what I can tell in the literature it’s extremely rare.

So, if you’re taking Betaine HCl without pepsin, you may be wasting a lot of money and not seeing the full benefit you could experience from using one that does contain pepsin.

Solution: Stick with Betaine HCl brands that contain pepsin, like the one we custom formulated after years of testing, called “HCL Guard+.”

Mistake 3: Taking Betaine HCl with the Wrong Food

If you’ve ever taken Betaine HCl when you didn’t need it… you know how painful it can be.

While all foods trigger the release of gastric acid via the brain and expanding the stomach, proteins will stimulate stomach acid production more than any other food. And that makes sense, because proteins require stomach acid and pepsin to break down the food, whereas it’s not as important for non-protein foods.

That said, if you eat a meal lacking protein, you probably don’t need Betaine HCl because even a healthy stomach wouldn’t have naturally secreted much gastric acid anyway.

For example, if you eat a salad for lunch without any protein… taking Betaine HCl could prove painful and unnecessary.

However, if you eat an 8oz chicken breast for lunchBetaine HCl can help you digest that protein.

After making this mistake a few times, I fondly nicknamed it, “The stomach ache of death.” Take my word for it and avoid the stomach ache of death if you can.

Solution: Don’t take Betaine HCl unless you eat at least 15g of protein with your meal.

Mistake 4: Taking the Wrong Dosage of Betaine HCl

Going back to Dr. Jonathan Wright’s book on stomach acid, he noted that:

“The most effective adult dose of Betaine HCl is 5 to 7 of the 650 milligram capsules per meal, with pepsin.”

This is important for two reasons:

1) This is an average, so many people need to take more Betaine HCl and many people need to take less. You have to figure the custom dosage that works for you (more instructions on that here).

I know taking a supplement like this can feel scary. I was scared when I started testing it out years ago.

But if your body is the type that requires 6-8 pills and you’re only taking 1-2 pills, you may be missing the benefits.

So, it’s very important to find the custom dosage that works for your body by working with a skilled practitioner and following the instructions I linked to above this paragraph.

2) You don’t need the same dosage of Betaine HCl at every meal.

I fell into this trap. For years I took the same amount of Betaine HCl at every meal, no matter what I ate. Granted, I always eat protein at every meal so I needed SOME stomach acid, but here’s the rub: no two meals require the same amount of gastric acid to properly digest.

A healthy stomach will produce a custom amount of gastric acid specifically designed for each individual meal.

So, by taking the same amount of stomach acid with each meal, I wasn’t truly mimicking my body’s natural process. In fact, for some people, it may be why they digest some meals better than others even though they’re still taking stomach acid.

Solution: Vary your dosage of Betaine HCl depending on how much protein you ate.  It’s all about how much protein you eat for a specific meal. If you eat 12oz of beef versus 6oz of beef, you probably need more Betaine. Keep testing out different amounts to see what works for you.

Betaine HCl: The Magic Pill?

If you’re someone with low stomach acid and you take Betaine HCl properly, it can be a “magic pill” for you. It can be the one supplement that dramatically improves your digestive symptoms.

But it’s one of the most complex supplements out there and I’ve never worked with any two people that used it exactly the same way. We each have a custom protocol that will work for us.

The important thing about Betaine HCl is this: use it carefully and work with a practitioner that knows about low stomach acid. And more importantly, know that the only real way to use it properly is to keep testing and tweaking it until you get it right.

Introducing: HCl Guard+ by Healthy Gut Nutrition

The 0nly stomach acid supplement built with “Advanced BioMimicking Stomach Support”™

If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried a lot of supplements that have loads of promise but fall short on actual results. 

And here at HealthyGut, we’re committed to only bringing things that actually work – reliable, proven, and verified by you. 

That’s why I’m so happy to share our newest Betaine HCl .

While I knew the science, there was nothing else like it on the market.  It’s the first of it’s kind.

It’s based on “Advanced BioMimicking Stomach Support”™. Which is something I asked many supplement companies to make over the years… and they just refused. 

So we built it ourselves.

Now the test results are in and I’m confident it works. That’s why it’s backed by a 180-day guarantee. 

Now it’s time for you to find out for yourself.

So without further Ado… please meet our new baby: 

The newest digestive support product on the market. This works especially well for those who struggle with: 

  • Heavy or fullness after eating
  • Trouble digesting meat
  • Burping
  • Gas
  • SIBO
  • Candida
  • Constipation
  • And straining during bowel movements

If you’re looking for a Betaine HCl supplement to test, I’d be honored for you to try ours.  We have a full 180-day guarantee, so if you’re not happy with it, we’ll refund your purchase.

Click here to order now.

– Jordan

Jordan Reasoner

About Jordan Reasoner

Jordan Reasoner is a health engineer and author. He was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007 and almost gave up hope when a gluten-free diet didn’t work. Since then, he transformed his health using the SCD Diet and started HealthyGut.com to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

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473 thoughts on “4 Common Betaine HCl Mistakes

  1. Avatar


    Thanks for all the info- I wish I found it before I took my first dose of HCL. I thought I would share my story and get some feedback from you. I have never had acid reflux/GERD or any symptoms until about 2 weeks ago. At that time I had a coughing fit when water went down the wrong pipe, it was a bad episode, where I almost choked and vomited, after that I developed a dry cough.. 2 days later the acid reflux started.. At first it was just regurg.. and then turned a little acidic. A week in, a friend said I must have had a hiatul hernia. She showed me how to do stomach adjustments/massage and it got 300% better overnight. I was still having a little regurg 3 hours after my lunchtime meal but other than that was fine. Wasn’t taking any ant acids.. and just dealing with a little regurg.. well someone at a local health food store recommended that I take HCL Betaine (no pepsin). They did not tell me about any side effects- and I did not ask or look it up (stupid me). The first day I took 1 tab with a meal and i felt a little warm, but nothing uncomfortable and it was 2 hours after the meal. Yesterday I took one with an egg/sandwich and followed with yogurt. 2 hours later the heat started.. I was on fire all last night- burning in the chest, throat and esophagus.. It has subsided a bit during the day- but is still painful over 24 hours later. Suprisingly there is no regurgitation.. Just heat and pain. I have been taking slippery elm, marshmallow and licorice, chamomile and aloe vera and taking some tums to help… I looked for DGL at the local store couldn’t find it. will get some in 2 days when I go to the bigger centre.

    I am just hoping the inflammation will subside soon- baking soda does not seem to help.. thinking it is just inflammation and not acid-

    Anyways- just wanted to share my story- and any feedback or thoughts (even just about how long this may last) will be much appreciated.

    Thank you so much

    ps. I am healthy, regular healthy bowel movements (even through this all), not overweight and active.

    • Avatar

      Me again- I took baking soda last night= 2 doses of 1/2 tsp and that really settled the heat down- Will continue with my soothing routine, but wondering if then its not inflammation that I am really dealing with but too much acid from the HCL..

      Anyways just wanted to add an update.
      Thank you

      • Avatar

        Asrael, it sounds like your issue may just be the hiatal hernia and not low stomach acid. Someone with low stomach acid would not have felt a reaction on the first dose of betaine hcl. The fact that you felt tons better with hiatal hernia massage and worse with betaine may mean a trip to the GI doc for an evaluation. Your regular GI docs seem to have a better handle on treating hh, whereas with issues of acid, they can be more apt to offer options that can often prove opposite of helpful. Hope this helps (?) Wishing you all the very best Asrael!

  2. Avatar

    Hi, I just started supplementing w HCl w pepsin from Bio Care. The first and second day I took 1 capsule to every meal (lunch only sallad), third day I upped to 2 caps per meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner). Today, the fourth day I took 2 caps w breakfast (green smoothie w 1 scoop collagen poweder and 1 egg), then at 10.30am I had a green apple and got very nauseated after which I usually not do. The rest of the day I have felt like a lump in my throat and bloated and like I need to go to the loo all the time but nothing is coming. Did I do it wrong taking it with the breakfast? Is it to little protein? What I understand it only is recommended to take Hcl w protein – but isn’t brown rice containing proteins? And, how do I know how much protein I eat? 20g is quite a small amount.

    • Avatar

      Hi Susan – great question. Here is what we’d suggest: Find your max dose while consuming at least 15-20 grams of animal (meat) protein. Once you find that number. you can cut it in half for non meat protein meals (like protein powder, etc). Essentially, you’ll have 2 different doses depending upon which type of protein you intake.

      • Avatar

        Ok, thats great! Thanks. Also today I took 3 capsules and I am so, so tired. Even more tired than yesterday, Is this normal in the beginning of supplementation? I can fall a sleep in seconds. A bit worried it won’t go away. I don’t want to stop HCL.

  3. Avatar

    The doctor diagnosed me recently with GERD and had me on PPIs which did not help me. After research I found out about low stomach acid and how betaine could help me. I have been taking betaine HCL (2 tablets) with meals and taking slippery elm for inflammation and I would say symptoms are 80% gone but I am still waking up with a sore throat in the mornings. I am worried it might be something worse like throat cancer. Any ideas?

    • Avatar

      Hi Scott – you’ll need your max dose when consuming meat, as it is a bit harder to break down than other protein based foods like peanut butter. If peanut butter is the main protein in a particular meal, you’ll likely need less HCL>

  4. Avatar

    Suffering from brain fog and some digestive problems for 5-6 years. Tried to fix so many things and nothing ever helped. Parasites, candida, leaky gut, SIBO, neurotransmitters. I addressed it all. Changed my diet 2 years ago and it definitely helped with digestive problems, but not with brain fog. My lab tests are normal and my doc says I am healthy as a horse. However, I can’t say so. Also my platelet count is low (110), which suggests autoimmune. Genova comprehensive stool analysis, which I did year ago showed almost perfect gut condition, with no parasites or candida. IGG blood test though suggested some high reaction to candida. High doses of antifungals and candida diet never affected my brain fog in any way.
    So now I came up with low stomach acid..
    Yesterday first time I took Betaine HCL supplement 700mg. 10-15 minutes later it made my brain fog much worse. Didn’t affect digestive sympthoms though, no burning, no heartburns or acid reflux. That horrible brain fog lasted for couple hours and then back to “normal”. This morning I took 1/3 capsule with meal. Again bad brain fog. Should I keep pushing it?

    • Avatar

      HI Tim – I’d recommend having your thyroid checked. As for the HCL – that is a tough one. If you have one major complaint and it makes things worse, it’s probably not the best idea. You could try apple cider vinegar for better digestion, too!

      • Avatar

        Thank you for suggestion. I just checked thyroid, blood test came back perfect, even no Hashimoto.
        But… I think I figured out. My health slowly started to decline since the year, when I did root canal. Since that I’ve been feeling some weird pressure in that tooth from time to time. Also when they checked all my teeth couple years ago, my new dentist told me he might see some infection in that tooth on the x-ray and that he would need to redo it, if I decide to put crown there. I never took it seriously though, but now I think that must be the reason of some hidden inflammation/infection, which causes brain fog. Also I have a rotten wisdom tooth, which I wanted to address once it starts hurting. Time to make dentist appointment I guess.

    • Avatar

      You need to look into Lyme Diesease. I would bet good money that it is Lyme affecting you. Do more than just a western blot test. Go to a serious Lyme literate dr.

  5. Avatar

    The Betaine HCL with Pepsin has been so helpful. The only time I get a bad reaction is if I consume lemonade with my protein meal along with the HCL. Have you found this true as well?

  6. Avatar

    I’m trying to wean myself off somac and take thorne betaine every second day and then a somac the other day. Can I mix the 2 medications taken on different days. I can seem to stretch the betaine to 2 days i think i need to take more on the day.

  7. Avatar

    Hello.. Love your article it has been very helpful.
    I have hashimotos and low acid stomach. My thyroid panel test are in the normal range. But I still have bloating and bleching.

    Today I just try 1 capsule Betaine Pepsine HCL with gentian bitters before my protein meal (chicken). 2 hours later I feel the burning sensation on my stomach and my waist. Should I stop using it and try it again in the next few days? Or should I continue at least until tomorrow? Thanks

    • Avatar

      Sorry I forgot also to mention that my H pylori is active and is still being treated with probiotics. The dose of the betain HCL is 650mg. Before trying the HCL today, my concerns that are still there are bloating, belching , join/body aches. I am gluten free, min sugar/soy/dairy. My protein meal are chicken and zucchini. Should I wait to try HCL again until all my symptoms above disappearing? Or should I try HCl for at least 2 days and watch for the symptoms? Thanks

      • Avatar

        When I woke up after 1 pill yesterday, I felt so great. But, when I tried again 1 capsule dr best betaine pepsin with my protein meal for breakfast, an hour later I felt the warmness again on my stomach that radiating to my waist and my knee.. Is it normal? I really want to try betaine again since it gives me the best feeling when I woke up since a long time ( More energy, no joins pains )

        Thank you

      • Avatar

        Hi Lori.. Thank you for your response. I stop using betaine hcl for now. However after a meal today, I still got burning sensation, a lot of burping and random pain on my chest and upper back. Is it mean I have gastritis/ ulcer/ GERD? If yes , can I still take the ACV? I tried lemon juice before and it gave me bad reflux.. What should I do?

  8. Avatar

    I have terribly low stomach acid but I also have horrible reactions to methyl donors. I end up having problems sleeping and I have problems with my brain being overstimulated etc. and I don’t know how to correct this. I need at least six or seven (650mg) capsule per protein meal but that just about kills me. It seems like my limit before it really affects me is seven pills in an entire day. It’s very dose dependent with me. Shall I just take my high-dose HCl with one meal a day and include all of my vitamins and minerals at that time and just leave it at that so I can absorb them? Will I eventually start to produce my own stomach acid only taking my HCl for one meal a day? This truly breaks my heart because I’ve been so sick for four years and I am B12 deficient and severely iron deficient anemic and I don’t know what else to do.

      • Avatar

        Hi Lori! Thanks so much for your response. I’m going to try doing that and see if it helps. I am also increasing niacin because it mops up excess methylation and that might help me as well with my symptoms I get. There’s just no way of getting around it I will never be healthy unless I increase my stomach acid so I have to take it as best as I can. I am hoping that eventually my stomach will start producing its own acid when it absorbs acid producing nutrients from the supplements I take and I could start to back off of the HCl. I think that’s a problem for a lot of people they don’t realize that you need certain minerals and vitamins to produce stomach acid in the body and they’re just taking HCl with food hoping that’s enough but you really need to take zinc, iodine, B1 and B6 etc. to make stomach acid and they all need stomach acid to be absorbed. It’s a vicious cycle I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

  9. Avatar

    Hey guys, I have been diagnosed with H pylori couple years ago and went through the treatments of the antibiotics, shortly after that my symptoms still continue which were bloated with meals, extremely brain fog, extremely tiredness, gas, weakness to the point walking and small activity was challenging. Blood work after blood work “your fine”. After that I was so miserable that just small food will make me bleaching the whole day and very painful stomach. Then I did more research and found out about the low carb diet, I tried it for the first night, just veggies and eags and milk. And like a miracle all my symptoms subsided. 4 days into the diet I doing great except tiredness and weakness, then I knew I had to have small carbs or sugar with it, original symptom retured. I went to my gastro doc and explain everything, she gave me breath test and found out that I had SIBO and sugar intolarance, I was happy and took the treatments, Antibiotics for the SIBO, sucrose Enzymes for the sugar intolarance. Waited 1 month, symptoms still there but bit better. Then I tried digestive enzymes, and they were exactly what I was missing this whole time. I started doing further research and found out abou HCL with pepsin, tried them and i can eat as much CARBS, SUGAR, PROTEIN. Without any problems. Now I know I must have low stomach acid. I’m started taking the HCL with pepsin 650 1 pill per meal and made sure I had enough protein with each meal, 2 days later added 1 pill and now started taking 3. As soon as I tried 3 pills I saw some signs like urgent bowl movement and urination, but it did digest my food a lot quicker and was extremely hungry in 4 hours. My question is, all though I didn’t fell any worm sensation in my stomach should I continue to dose up 1more and is it save to take that much dosage?

  10. Avatar

    Hi guys,

    Last year I started to cough chronically. After many tests I was diagnosed with h. pylori and successfully get rid of it using antibiotics and PPI. However, gastroscopy has shown that h. pylori caused me chronic gastritis and some of my simptoms are acid reflux, candida, etc…. Since then I tried many different things and nothing doesn’t help. Lately I started researching more and I found out that there is a big possibility that I have low stomach acid. Can you tell me how can I test for low stomach acid? If some test confirms my suspition, can I start using betaine HCL even though I have chronic gastritis?

    Thank you in advence for quick response!

  11. Avatar

    I am one of those people who seem to naturally produce little hydrochloric acid which produced an enormous variety of symptoms – Terrible moods, extreme swelling ( just thought I was hopelessly overweight), sensivity to heat, constipation etc. When I started taking HCL it was like someone turned the lights on. The pounds fell off, I was actually happy and on and on..
    When you say “Vary your dosage of Betaine HCl depending on how much protein you ate” it simply does not apply to everyone.
    Regardless of how many HCL capsules I took (As many as 24 with a meal) , it was never enough to digest grain, especially wheat, and I went without eating bread, oatmeal, cereal for years. If I were to eat a single slice of toast without a considerable amount of HCL, I would have been in deep trouble.. On the other hand, Meat never has been a problem and requires far fewer capsules.

    On the positive side, I recently discovered that low levels of zinc can contribute to low HCL I started a zinc supplement and immediately was able to cut my HCL down by more than half AND eat some grains.

  12. Avatar

    Hi, I would like to have an advice on my supplementation of betain HCL. Why, after taking just one pill of Betaine HCL 648mg with 150mg of pepsin from NowFoods, i go to the toilet with a diarrhea? I have IBS but I am sure that this supplement causes me diarrhea every time I take it. But, to cure my IBS (and probably SIBO) I want to take Betaine HCL. What is your advice on that?

  13. Avatar

    I have been taking HCL for years and has been really helpful. However, recently I take lite salt to supplement potassium and am finding the return of heartburn. Now I dont know if continuing taking HCL is a good choice? From what I have read, potassium can increase acid in the stomach and that is what I am doing with HCL? Have I got it all wrong?

  14. Avatar

    I take HCl for SIBO and dysbiosis, and the effect of the HCl has been incredibly good.

    The only thing is that now that I am taking HCl with every meal, I am experiencing reasonably serious diarrhoea.

    Is there anything I can do about this, short of stopping the HCl?

    • Avatar

      Hello – you can try to back off the HCL by 1 pill at a time and see if that changes the diarrhea symptoms. It will also be important to rule out the HCL as the cause of the diarrhea, so a food journal may help there.

  15. Avatar

    Thank you for this comprehensive information!
    I have had silent feed for a while and was diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus. I still suffer inflammation of my digestive tract. I have weaned myself off PPIs and we are cautiously adding in HCL (1 or 2 with pepsin , I also used Digest Gold). I am fine after meals, but about 2-4 hours after eating I get horrible heartburn and with Barrett’s, it’s scary. I don’t know if that means I need more, or less HCL or something gentler like bitters.

    Anyone with Barrett’s with experiences to share or advise?

  16. Avatar

    When I consume one capsule of HCL betaine with pepsin, I get side-effects like a burning sensation in my rectum/vagina area. (Sorry for info) why???? Can I be sensitive to Pepsin? Or to HCL betaine overall. I eat a high protein vegan diet, lots of beans and legumes. Maybe I don’t need pepsin? Or is it die offs? I believe I have lots of candida, parasites and bacterias in my body, and they are getting killed when I use HCL.. I’m afraid that I have a so extreme low stomach acid that Swedish bitter will not help and be strong enough. What can I else do!!? I even do apple cider vinegar and ginger before meals, but it seems like I only get worser symptoms, more belching and gas. I also do probiotic drink like water kefir.

  17. Avatar

    I had a stomach ulcer in 1978. I believe I am developing one now. I read that h pylori can be gotten rid of with Pepsin. It seems counterintewitive to take the Betaine Hydrochloride with Pepsin since stomach acid is what’s causing my problem. I’m confused. What do you suggest?

    • Avatar

      HI Jane – H Pylori can cause an ulcer and we recommend a specific protocol to get rid of it. Too much stomach acid most likely is not causing your issue, as that is rarely the case. We’d recommend treating the ulcer with diet and supplements such as DGL and digestive bitters. If you still have the ulcer, HCL will most likely cause uncomfortable symptoms so we don’t recommend that at this time.

  18. Avatar

    I have GI trouble which an endoscopy showed to be a gastritis. I think it developed during a period of intense stress. I tried ppis but I reacted badly to the first one (bloating, belching, cramps,…) and the second and third didn’t have much of a positive impact either. For some time now I noticed hair falling out, muscle twiching and other symptoms, which I think derive from a lack in minerals. Considering that various anti acid methods I’ve tried didn’t allow my symptoms to get better, I’ve now arrived at the conclusion that I might be suffering from a lack of stomach acid. I did the baking soda test and I didn’t have a reaction until around 8 minutes passed, so seems like my new hyptohesis is correct.
    The thing is, I ordered betaine hcl with pepsine capsules, but since I’ve been taking them (I don’t have apparent GI discomfort and I’m up to 3 tabs now), I’ve been experiencing what I think is acid reflux (though not heartburn). I’ve got a hoarse voice, sometimes a sore throat, once in a while an acid taste and I still have to belch after eating and drinking (still water), sometimes directly after, sometimes some time later (an hour or so).
    Is that an indication that I should stop Betaine hcl, or is that something that might be occuring during the process of gastric re-acidification? I thought that heartburn could arise due to low stomach acid, but since (taking symptoms into account and the test results) I suffer from low stomach acid, reflux shouldn’t happen after supplementing with Betaine hcl?

    Sorry for the grammar and vocab mistakes, I’m not a native speaker.

    Hope you guys can help me, because I’m kinda confused…

    • Avatar

      HI Anne – we recommend going off of symptoms when trying to decide if HCL is right for you. For example, if your taking it because you have gas, bloating and hearburn continue to look at changes in those symptoms as you test out the HCL. IF they are better, stick with it. If things get worse, that may not be your issue. I hope that helps you in deciding whether to continue or not.

  19. Avatar

    Hcl has been a life-changing supplement that has corrected a 30yr digestive problem. These articles and this website have helped immensely when it came to knowing how to use it successfully. So thankful! Am puzzled by one thing, tho: when I first started taking it several months back, I had to take them by the handful at every meal and barely got results. After a few weeks they started kicking in. How does one know if the stomach acid begins to replenish itself? I’ve had three spells in recent weeks of sudden onset violent trembling, bowel emptying, and the kind of shakiness you can get when you haven’t eaten in awhile. All three episodes took place when I hadn’t eaten in about 4 hours but had taken 5-6 capsules of hcl. Is it possible that my body doesn’t need as much and is causing some side effects?

  20. Avatar

    What is the best way to increase stomach acid without irritating the bladder (interstitial cystitis)? HCL irritates it, along with lemon juice, citric acid, and ACV…. Looking for another way to get protein in…

  21. Avatar

    I suffer from Gastroparesis. And several other GI issues, especially Gerd and severe Candida. I know my stomach is paralyzed which I believe is caused by long term low stomach acid. I’m positive I also have a bacterial overgrowth. 20 years ago I was diagnosed with Hpylori. It all went down hill from there. I have had major issues with my respiratory system. Mainly my sinuses because of long term acid erosion. I don’t remember what it feels like to be hungry. I have the lump in the throat. Crazy regurgitation of some crazy thick horribly smelling substance coming up into my esophagus and mouth. Especially after I try and eat. No matter how many times I brush my teeth I can smell my breath and its rancid. My teeth are rotting faster than I can type this. It feels like it’s going to suffocate me. I’ve tried so many natural products and nothing works. Going to the doctor is a waste of time because they either prescribe another med or turn their backs on me. I do have one doctor that cares. But his hands are tied due to my insurance coverage being so poor. I really want to try this product. But I’m hesitant. I am now experiencing having allergic reactions to perfumes and chemicals. I am antibiotics resistant. The only medication I take is Dexillant. It did help me gain 10 pounds in the beginning of 2016 but I recently suffered from an abscess tooth and lost 10 pounds in 2 weeks from having allergic reactions to the medications prescribed. The Candida has been the worst. I can’t kick it. I need a miracle at this point. I’m 38, 95 pounds, and 5’3″. Amy information will be helpful. Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

  22. Avatar

    Hey, Excellent article!

    My own problem started with self-medication. I was really healthy with my full hair but 6 years ago I did a lot of detoxification and water colon cleansing, after a month, I lost all my hair and I haven’t been able to grow it back, and also lost so much weight. I’ve also been struggling to gain weight. Since then my stomach has been burning and my stomach no longer tolerates avocados, almonds and so many other foods. I just recently went to do blood work and waiting if it’s ulcer or other stomach related problems. Before I started taking HCl/pepsin, I was taking probiotic and enzymes, but always getting a burning sensation in my stomach and genital. I just started taking HCL/pepsin two days ago and I haven’t felt any discomfort except my stomach felt empty like nothing was in it after a couple of hours. I have increased it to 4 pills, still no discomfort but I don’t know whether it’s the solution to my problem it will make it worse. I took HCL with iron and fish oil vitamin this morning with no discomfort. Is it advisable to take hcl with vitamins?

  23. Avatar

    Hello so in order to take this hcl betaine with pepsin it is after tou eat meat right?
    I thibk i may be suffering from low stomach acid been having really bad acid reflux bloating discomfort in my belly and burning sensation in throat and tums is not working!

    • Avatar

      HI Jasmin, thanks for reaching out. We’d suggest taking the HCL w pepsin at the beginning of high protein meals and work your way up until you feel an uncomfortable sensation that lets you know you’ve reached your upper dose.

  24. Avatar

    Hello Sir,
    I have a mild antral gastritis. I experience bloating always. I think i have low stomach acid. My diet is rice with vegetables fry. Should i use betaine hcl ??

    • Avatar

      HI Dee – we advise taking HCL with pepsin because in the meantime, we need it to break down the protein molecules. More research is needed on the manufacturing of Pepsin via HCL so we always advise to supplement with it for adequate digestion.

  25. Avatar

    Hi I have been taking betaine hcl with pepsin for about 1,5 years. The need really varies a damn lot for me. For a long time (probably 6 months or so) I only needed 0,5g per meal or 0,3g depending. Now I need about 3,5-4g and sill sometimes have diarrhea. ´can longterm use actually make things worse for me? Or what the hell is going on?


    • Avatar

      OH and I forgot. Does tingling in the abdominal muscles mean I’ve taken too much? I have felt burning before, but not now. Just tingling in the abs sometimes. Thanks.

      • Avatar

        The feeling that accompanies your dose limit is often described as a burning, increased pressure type feeling. Tingling could be a sign as well, as there really is not black and white answer – just an uncomfortable feeling. Experiment with it by decreasing the dose and monitoring digestive symptoms at that dose. It just takes some tweaking to find your limit.

    • Avatar

      Hi Kevin – great question. There are many things that contribute to our health, including sleep, diet, stress, exercise, and much more. It’s possible that you’re needing more right now because the quality of your gut has decreased or you’re under stress, to name a few. We’d recommend implementing hte dietry changes noted in the article and also increasing the HCL dose so that it can be effective for you.

  26. Avatar

    I visited a naturopath who suggested HCLs for my low stomach acid. She did not seem to think there was a limit to how high I should go as long as I did not experience burning. I am now taking 12 650mg capsules with every protein-containing meal, and still no feeling of discomfort or burning. I worked up to that amount very carefully, increasing by one 250mg capsule every two days. I am really wondering if I will hurt my stomach lining by taking so many now, and if I should cut back. I do not experience any other signs that I have enough stomach acid yet. I appreciate any advice you can give me!

    • Avatar

      HI Mia, great question. It’s very common for people to stop short of their needed Betaine HCL dosage. In fact, in the beginning I was nervous about taking 6 pills at a meal. But trust me. there is nothing to worry about. Dr. Wright reports that the common Betaine HCL dosage range in his clinical practice is 3,250-4,550mg per meal. That means there are also plenty of people who need above 5,000mg for an effective dosage.

      Remember a normal functioning stomach is capable of producing and handling extreme acid ranges. If your dosage starts getting extremely high without any GI distress (step #3), you must use your GI symptoms as a guide instead. These include burping, bloating, farting, and stool consistency. Keep everything else the same in your diet as you wait for these indicators to change for the better. Just because you can take 20 pills, doesn’t mean you should.

  27. Avatar

    Thanks for this article. I have been taking Betaine HCl w/ pepsin for 3 years now and it has done a great job of calming my stomach and improving my digestion.

    Suggestion (if it’s correct): add ‘steatorrhea’ as a symptom of low stomach acid. This was a symptom I recognized, but did not know was a bad thing. After HCl, my poop no longer floats, meaning I am now digesting fats.

  28. Avatar

    I feel like I just received the “mother load” coming across your website. Thank you for being educators and healers in this world. I put HCL with pepsin in a search engine and was led to scdlifestle.com. I’ve been using Swedish Bitters for many years, and stumbled upon HCL as the next step to work with low stomach acid. You answered so many critical questions and I will read your referenced article also. Thank you for your kindnesses.

  29. Avatar
    Hansen Juliette says:

    Hi and thanks for your post. I started taking hcl betaine with pepsine from solaray for my lack of stomach acid, I found my dosage at 8 pills of 250mg. But I have a problem! Whenever i take it, it makes me feel very very sleepy, and it is really hard not to fall alsept. Very hard to cope with daily activities. It may have to due with my genetics (I should avoid methyl things). Now my question is : is there an alternative to hcl betaine for those with low stomach acid? Specially it would be great if there is am alternative which isn’t a methyl donor

    • Avatar

      I was so happy to read what you wrote because I have the same issue! I have terribly low stomach acid but I also have horrible reactions to methyl donors. I end up having problems sleeping and I have problems with my brain being overstimulated etc. and I don’t know how to correct this. Did you end up finding anything that works? I need at least six or seven (650mg) capsule per protein meal but that just about kills me. It seems like my limit before it really affects me is seven pills in an entire day. It’s very dose dependent with me.

  30. Avatar

    Hello Jordan . I’m 40 years old male from India. I’m suffering from poor digestion. Like; gas, bloating,reflux , uneasiness. I used rebeprazol & all other anti acids, but nothing helped . After that I started searching on Internet. I came to know about betaine HCL & pepsin. I’m a vegan I’m eating wheat , rice, grains & vegetables. Is betaine would help me .if yes than how much should I take . Pls guide me . Waiting thanx

  31. Avatar

    Hello, Jordan
    Thank you for the great help!
    I have a lot of weight because the pain from the reflux and am afraid to eat.
    Recently I had the Heidelberg test and the Dr told me that I am producimg enough acid however is getting dumped leaving me woth low stomage acid. The Dr told me to take up to 5 hcl with pepsin pills and to assess my burning.
    I usually get the burning sensation with anything I eat , so When I take the hcl I am not sure if is the low acid and need more hcl or the hcl is already too much.
    The other thing is that I am vegetarian and still need the acid to digest; however as I understand hcl should be taking for meat digestion only?
    My concern is : how can I improve my own acid without taking the pills even though the Dr recommended it?
    How do I know of the burning is from the low acid or from the hcl pill?
    Pepsin is made out of porcine. Is there a vegetarian version? Do I need the pepsin?

    Thank you,
    Sent from my iPhone

      • Avatar

        Thank you so much for your help.
        I am taking the digestive bitters but not the enzymes. Ill have to start on that.
        I really approciate your answer . There are internet places that most of the answers are: “I can not advise you on that “….but my consult costs….
        I understand that part too, but one will probably choose someone like you that are willing to support and help us.
        You guys are great and carying

  32. Avatar

    Hi, I most likely have a problem with low stomach acid. It has all started with nausea, loss of apetite and a sharp pain under my right rib cage that would never go away and just radiate to my back near the spine. Then it moved to my stomach also (right under my rib bonein the center – burning pain, pressure, burping, indigestion – all goes up again, sour feeling in my mouth in the morning, constant pain and feeling of fullness). I thought it was my gallbladder, but bloodworks and ultrasound showed nothing, as well as pancreatic and liver blood tests. I think it might be Sphinter of Oddi dysfunction, which is said to be connected to low stomach acid, as well as gallbladder problems. Apple cider vinegar does not alleviate my problem, in fact, it seems to make it slightly worse. So I am unsure what to do, and I have some questions about HCL w pepsin in my case:

    1) Is only meat considered protein? I read that you only should eat betaine w protein meals, but what about yoghurt or cheese?

    2) I have tried various diets, problem is, I cannot eat much of the foods that are considered leaky gut healing – for example from all of the sudden, beef stock gives me intense pain. Sometimes it just seems ANYTHING I consume gives me pain. It is better with oats, yoghurt and vegetable purées – not much to eat. Can I eat Betaine HCL w pepsin with yoghurt, or is it likely to hurt me more?

    • Avatar

      Hi Kymberly – we recommend HCL with pepsin. We don’t have experience using HCL with Fenugreek as a replacement – but if you can’t use pepsin for some reason, you can certainly give it a try and see how it works for you

  33. Avatar

    Hello..i hope anyone can help me with this… Im 30 yrs and i was suffering from extreme tiredness, joints pain,confusion, bad memory, being nervous for no reason, dry coughing, i had to clean my throat always…until one day i had extreme stomach pain and acid reflux that couldnt even sleep…so after my nutritionist gave an alkaline diet without any wheat or diary products…all my symptoms that i was suffering from years ago went away and was really a very differnt person…but when i started to change in my diet i had the extreme tiredness come back and a little of joint pain…then a friend suggested to take zypan (hcl betaine with pepsine)..when i took the first pill my energy came back and my bloating has almost gone….but 4 days later as i increased to 2 and sometimes 3 pills, i have a lot of joints and bones pain and im feeling nervous all the time…but my energy and bloating are still improving…..so actually i cannot know the reason, and im confused abt if these pills are doing good or bad to me…any hint or suggestions would be really very appreciated…

    • Avatar

      Hi Samar – I really suggest you talk with your doctor or nutritionist about this. It’s hard to say if the changes in your diet, a reaction to the supplements, or something else are causing these changes. Someone who works with you one-on-one like a nutritionist or a practitioner can better help you figure it out. If you are looking for a practitioner, this is a great place to start: https://healthygut.com/practitioners/

  34. Avatar

    Hi. I have tried to figure our my dose and I have noticed the last day I am getting acid reflux/indigestion. Is this a sign I am taking too much?
    Thanks so much….

    • Avatar

      Hi Vanessa – yes this is likely a sign you’ve increased the amount of HCL a little too high. Try backing down one pill and keep going down until the feeling resolves. You want to take the smallest amount you can while experiencing relief from your symptoms.

      Hope this helps!!

  35. Avatar

    5-7 pills at once? I would be in the ER if I did that. 2 500mg set my stomach on fire. Also hcl is not the only thing your supposed to be taking apple cider vinegar is also very important.

    I don’t even know what’s wrong with me. I got leaky gut for over 10 years now. I now have a reaction to every food I eat. And I see undigested in the tolet.

    If hcl and apple cider vinegar does not work then I don’t know.

    • Avatar

      Hi Matt – everyone is different and needs a unique amount of HCL. Many people need higher doses to get symptom relief. The stomach is designed to be able to handle large amounts of stomach acid (thats what its for, after all!) If you experience burning even at very low doses of HCL, you may have gastritis or an ulcer. You can try and address gastritis first using DGL and plenty of chicken broth. After two weeks, you can try HCL again.
      I hope this helps 🙂

  36. Avatar

    Hi Steve,

    I started taking 6 Betaine HCL (02 PER meal) in a day for 05 months.My digestion became better,was able to digest protein rich food with less bloating and cramping, stool became solid instead of semi-formed/gel.But recently had peptic and gastric ulcers for which I am taking PPI.

    I lost lot of weight in last 1 year.Wsa having IBS,dairy and gluten intolerant which triggers IBS.

    Pls advise.

  37. Avatar

    Do you Have Experience with betain and pepsin for excessive saliva? Would it help? How do I find out if the excessive saliva is due to stomach acid problems?

  38. Avatar

    Hello, I am a 38 year old male and have rosacea. My face, neck and ears are pretty much permanently red and I have breakouts around my nose area every 1-2 weeks. I’ve tried very many treatments and have decided to give the hcl a shot. I started a couple weeks ago and have worked my way up to 16-648mg per meal and still don’t have any signs of warming etc. my questions are 1. Does anyone think taking hcl will truly help with the rosacea symptoms I mentioned above and if so how long should I expect it to take to see some changes. 2. The amount of hcl I am taking seems like a lot and seems to make no difference in my gi, burps, gas, etc.., does this mean I may not need hcl, should I continue to increase or can I just go back down to a lower amount and still have results.

    • Avatar

      Hi JS! Thanks for reaching out.

      These are great questions and bring up a lot of good points.

      Yes, we do think HCL could help with your rosacea as part of a multi-faceted healing approach – but if you’re just taking HCL and you haven’t addressed the other root causes, you probably won’t have great results. However, if you’re eating the right foods (an anti-inflammatory, nutrient dense diet) and have made the right adjustments to your lifestyle – then adding in a key supplement like HCL can unlock the next level of healing.

      I really recommend you sign up for our free webinar on Tuesday nights to learn more about how to combine all the approaches to healing to get amazing results. http://solvingleakygut.com/webinar/live-qva/

      Hope to see you there!

  39. Avatar

    Hi, I’ve been using Solaris betain hcl pills for about a year now. I’ve had great results, but a few set backs. At times I’ve had to take 7, 650mg pills with each meal. I’ve started to get a lot of heartburn after I eat. I was wondering if it could be because I’m taking too many pills or not enough. Currently I take about 5-6 per meal and have heartburn almost every day. I also started a low fodmap diet which was recommended by my doctor.

    Any advice would be great.

    Thank you!

  40. Avatar

    Hi! Great article!
    I was hoping someone can help me. I started on HCL betajne ( with pepsin) because I was always extremely bloated and felt sick after big meals and tipically would have to wait for 3-4 hours to feel better again.

    HCL betaine helped me immensly with this as I didn’t feel sick anymore after nor bloated after eating, it felt like a miracle! However after taking it for about 3 weeks I started getting heartburn and acid reflux. I’ve never had acid reflux before so I was scared and stopped taking HCL betaine.

    Now its been around 4 days since I stopped and my reflux and heartburn do not go away and I get it with each meal, even small ones. I don’t know what to do, and now think HCL betaine was the cause of it. Should I continue supplementing or stop altogether? And is there something I can do to ease the reflux and heartburn?

    Thank you so much for your time!

  41. Avatar

    Hi there! Great info btw .

    Couple of things …

    First …. I’ve to find that 7-10 capsules of
    the Douglas Labs Hcl pepsin per large meal keep my rosacea at bay and minimize if not abolish my heartburn . I’ve played with dosages and timing to find that dose
    But if I stop , the rosacea returns , with a vengance ESP if I’ve resumed coffee drinking . Certain bean varieties make
    It worse , some almost cause an instant itching and redness to resume . Others little to nothing . I’ve been on a high does application for almost two years .
    I’ve found all my triggers and avoid of eat them at my own risk. Thoughts ?

    Second , I’m 37 …. Have piles of grey hair…. Had piles of antibiotics in my youth . Now have chronic sinus issues , loss of sense of smell and an obvious candida rash here
    and there …
    I’m planning on starting a high does probiotic with a couple of anti candida supplements and obviously cutting out all sugar .

    What are your thoughts on long term hcl use and my plan to get to the bottom of all my issues .

    I’m an active beast , lift 3 x per week and do martial arts .

    Thanks for your time !

  42. Avatar

    Hi Jordan,
    Very interesting and useful article. I am currently taking Urban Moonshine Digestive Bitters 15 min before meals and 2 tsp – 1 T Apple Cider Vinegar at the beginning of each meal, which is helpful.

    Can betaine HCl caps be pulled apart and mixed with food? The reason I ask is I have a medical condition (congenital esophageal strictures) that narrows my esophagus in 2 places to 1/4″. GI doctor tried dilation treatment but the stretched strictures kept shrinking back to original 1/4″ “-(.

    Betaine sounds like it might be worth a try if I can safely mix the powder with food.

  43. Avatar

    I am so happy that I’ve found thispage!
    I hope somebody might help me….

    Actually I was researching for Betain-HCL in combination with h.pyloris.
    I ordered Betain HCL and wanted to start with it tomorrow but I am not very sure if I should really take it.

    To my history:
    I have digestive problems since around 2010. But i thought the only reason for that is my lactose-intolerance – which was tested posotive before (I am asian and I think it genetics but not sure). After that I’ve ALWAYS had some more or less problems-mainly diarroea. But I also thaught its not that worse and that the reason would lie in my intolerance. I also went to a doctor but he said I would be kidding him to go and see him only because of some diarroea or creamy and stinky stool.
    And then some years went by and my problems got worse. I had diarroea all the time very uncontrollable, a lot of developed allergies (allergy test was full of things), I am /was always tired without energy for learning or doing my daily stuff, and ALWAYS bloated. Then I went to the doctor in 2015 and I was diagnosed with h. pyloris almost a year ago and had to take two rounds of antibiotics. After that I went to Indonesia and had an parasit so I had to take antibiots again…Then I had a 4 month diarrea problem while I was abroad in Taiwan and a lot of heartburn…

    Now I still have the same symptoms (bloating with a HUGE tummy after easting e.g. white rice, no energy, tired, always a little sick, diarrea and sometimes heartburn) and found HCL Betain but im not sure if I should take it because I am afraid that it will make h.pyloris even worse. But I dont know if it developed again over the last year even if the last test in August was negative….

    NO Doctor in Germany could help me so I am desperatly searching for help….
    I really really hope you can help me with my problem…

    Kind Regards,

    • Avatar
      Cindy Jessen says:

      I would have your thyroid checked out. It also sounds like you have devolped “leaky gut” which helped you develope your allergies . Go see a “Naturalist or Homopath”. Read as much as you can on underactive thyroid (ex.Hashimotos) and leaky gut and low stomach acid symptoms and see if this doesn’t sound like what you are experincing. A lot of MD’s don’t recognize “leaky gut” as a medical diagnosis but still read up on it and if you feel this is what you are and have been going through I would reach for a naturalist to help you. Bad thing is medical insurance doesn’t cover them so it’s an out of the pocket expense . Find one in your area and a lot of them have reviews on their websites from patients that talks about what they went there for and how they have helped or cured them. First thing is to educate yourself by reading all about what I mention above ie. low thyroid, leaky gut. etc. to help you get in the right direction as far as your symptoms and then find a professional either homeopathy or a MD. Good Luck.

  44. Avatar

    I would like to find both a physician and a nutritionist in NYC (also would appreciate recommendations in New Jersey) who are v. knowedgable about acid reflux and focus on diet and natural supplements for health.

    I am a healthy 52 year old male, take NO medications, and lead a very active life style.,

    Still, I get bouts of acid reflux and even was on Omeprezole for 8 weeks from DEC 2015 to FEB 2016.

    I need guidance to put together a sound rational plan so I can understand what’s the problem and how to be preventative and be healthy.

    I welcome your help.

    Kind REgards,

    • Avatar

      Hi Sam – thanks for reaching out. You just need to keep in mind the total amount of HCL you’ll be taking if the digestive enzyme you use also contains it. (I.e. if you take a 650 mg HCL pill and a digestive enzyme with 100 mg HCL, you’ve taken 750 mg HCL)

  45. Avatar

    I was given lansoperazole then it stopped working so I was given omeprazole now this does not work. I was given this medicine for acid reflux, now I realise that the medicine was the wrong thing. I had hair loss , chipped and ridged nails, sensitive shins, nutrient deficiency I now realise this could be due to low acid. I have now changed my diet I no longer consume refined sugar, processed food, fatty food, fried food I take digestive enzymes and braggs apple cider vinegar plus HGL to heal my stomach. I consume a good balance of alkalizing foods. I feel so much better but I am going to take hcl with pepsin to clear the last bit of acid reflux I still get in my throat. I know it will work as low acid is the only thing which makes sense. I urge those that have not changed their diet to eating clean to do so it may help you.

  46. Avatar

    I have a question. I have SIBO and I am dealing with severe constipation since years. My intestine didn’t work at all and I react to almost every food out there. I tried everything I could find the past couple of years without success.
    Now I have been in hospital and the doctor put me on Rifixamin for 14 days, followed by Resolor 2mg. After finishing the antibiotic I started with the SCD in combination with a low FODMAP diet.
    After the antibiotic I had some Symptome relief like less bloating, better sleep, less abdominal pain and my intestine started working a little for the first time in 7 years. Only very poor but anyway…
    But one of my main symptoms still remains and is getting worse again. I still react to eating in a way that I am having a lot of water in the intestine. During the day, until the evening it is that much that it sounds like a hot water bottle when I touch my stomach/intestine. It makes me feel really nauseous and dizzy. The doctor has no idea what it is or how to treat this. The stool that comes out is really firm and I can hardly get it out. But at the same time there is all that water that is getting more during the day and with every meal.
    I started with the intro diet and then slowly added foods. But the water symptom was also there during the intro. I am taking HCL Betaine with Pepsin (1Capslue/meal) and digestive Enzymes at every meal. A higher dose of enzymes increases the water and so do probiotics (I tried SC-dophilus, GI-ProHealth, 3/4 capsule). I also tried a probiotic with bifidos and it also makes the water worse.
    Do you have any idea what this is about? Do you know anyone who suffers from that too and what I can do to stop this? It causes really bad symptoms. I can’t go forward in the diet because all I eat increases this so much that I can hardly bear it. And also since I am on the diet my intestine stopped working again and I haven’t been to the toilet now for 14 days. I would be very grateful for an answer because the doctors can’t help me out!

  47. Avatar

    So I’m going around the internet trying to find all the places where low stomach acid is being talked about to find an answer to this problem. I see Katrina and Renee have already asked about this and I’m really hoping to find a real answer here. My wife NEEDS to take Betaine HCl pills but she has a big problem swallowing pills. I’ve gotten three different brands of pills and they are all too large for her to swallow comfortably. She will likely need to take at least five 650mg pills at first. She did the challenge and was able to take seven pills without any warmth or burning. But actually swallowing the pills was extremely difficult for her and there’s NO WAY she could do this every day. She also has a problem drinking liquids with meals which also makes taking numerous large pills very difficult. The nature of her stomach problems requires her to keep her stomach as dry as possible around the time of eating.

    So my question is, does anyone out there know which brand of Betaine HCl pills are the smallest in size and most easy to swallow? She takes a vitamin D supplement that comes in tiny pills and she’s able to handle those. Is there any form of Betaine HCl that comes in that size? I haven’t been able to find a way to figure this out and it’s driving me up the wall! There doesn’t to be any kind of “search engine” for Betaine HCl products where you can search by physical pill size. Her stomach problems seem to be connected to low acid so she really needs to take these pills! HELP!

    • Avatar

      Hi dd – I hope someone else out there can answer this for you!

      If she is unable to swallow the pills, another option to try is a shot of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice (1 tablespoon) right before she eats. We prefer HCL, but this can be a substitute to try.

    • Avatar

      Hi Donna – yes we recommend spending some time healing the stomach lining before trying HCL – glutamine and zinc carnosine are a great way to start. We also recommend using a DGL supplement and drinking plenty of bone broth. Do this for at least two weeks before trying HCL at the lowest dose. If you get a burning feeling at the lowest dose, continue with these healing supplements a while longer before trying again.

  48. Avatar

    This is a little long but any feedback/opinions would be super appreciated!

    I’ve been taking Betaine HCL with pepsin from Thorne Research and have used the proper proticol of starting with one capsule and increasing until a feeling of warmth. I got up to 5 capsules and decided to add a 6th. So with that meal I had a stirfry with 4oz of steak. I took the 6 capsuels with no burning, and no issues that i can remember. This was at about 7pm. At 2am i woke up with stomach pain and nausea, no burning, and then thought it may be from too many capsules. I took a teaspoon of baking soda in water to nuetralize the acid cause at the time i assumed that was the issue. 10 minutes later i threw up a few times and my stomach felt better and the pressure and nausea was a lot more tolerable so i was able to fall back asleep.

    2 hours later I woke up with more stomach pain and nausea and threw up again. The next day i was very nauseuos and only ate 2 oranges, and some raspbarries all day. I managed to eat dinner, (waffles made out of a plantain, and protein powder and topped it was a little coconut oil and sunflower seed butter) probably not the best food choice but i was super hungry and thats all i had in the house really. So i ate that around 5:30-6pm and my stomach felt full and still nausiated the rest of the night. It felt like my food was just sitting there and not digesting at all. So around 8:30 i decided to go to bed. I layed in bed for an hour with stomach pain and nausea and was so uncomfortable i got up (this is kinda gross so i apologize) and kinda of made myself puke to relieve the pain and pressure. It was alomst a projectile vomit and then i was able to sleep through the night without getting up to throw up again. Stomach pain and nausea was still there though, just not as bad.

    So now today, I still feel pretty blah and my stomach still hurts a little. I’ve been drinking protein shakes with no issue (slight pain when it hits my stomach) and the fruit from yesterday didnt bother me at all. I should also note that i was getting super cold really easily and today i woke up with slightly swollen glands in my neck (maybe from lack of sleep). I also work in a pediatric office and over the weekend a few other co-workers experienced some vomiting and GI issues but my episodes seemed to be more spread out than theres and i was able to keep liquids/fruit down and they couldnt keep anything down.

    So if you got through this looooooong story, thank you and if you have any input on whether it sounds like a reaction/damage from the betaine HCL or just a stomach bug, I would highly appreciate it. I was feeling positive results originally from the HCL caps so I’m hoping this is just a stomach bug and totally unrelated so I can keep taking them


    • Avatar

      Hi Kaitlyn- thanks for reaching out.

      This sounds more like a stomach bug than a reaction to HCL – normally when you take too much HCL you have a burning feeling right away.

      Everyone id different, but we suspect this is just the bug going around your office. If you aren’t feeling better soon, please see your doctor.

  49. Avatar

    I have gaps and have been struggling So I was so excited to read about hcl with pepsin. I tried it for a couple of days (with high protein meals)- never made it past 1 pill bc the heartburn/esoph felt like on fire was out of control. So I waited until that subsided (a week) and then tried 2different brands of digestive bitters. They each gave me heartburn that was as bad as it was with the hcl w/pepsin. I have already gone almost totally paleo with no starches and I use your scd charts and fodmaps (I have severe constipation that I have finally worked out a regimen for) – but I’m hungry and scared to eat.

  50. Avatar

    Hello Jordan and Steve
    I just wanted to know if there is a known Betaine HCL product that contains pepsin sourced from bovine (cows) rather than porcine(pork/pigs) sources. I need the Betaine HCL with pepsin product, but I do not take pork products. Do you have any products with bovine pepsin that you can point me to? Thanks

  51. Avatar

    I have Pernicious Anaemia and have regular B12 shots of Hydrocobalamine. I have just started taking HCL (currently 2 a day) to help with my acid reflux. Can you say if taking HCL and probiotics has any adverse affect on the absorption of B12 please?

  52. Avatar

    I’ve had my gall bladder removed which to my understanding helps in the production of stomach acids and as a result have embarrassing amounts of gas after eating some foods. Any recommendations? Would this supplement work for me?

  53. Avatar

    I had burning in my chest and throat for 4 months. I was on PPI for 10 years..and we went through every ppi thinking that the one I was on wasn’t working anymore. For 4 months I tried every ppi out there and had horrible side effects. I ran across the low acid article and thought I would give it a try. I was amazed after taking one pill with 2 meals. The burning got better, the only thing is I can’t really tell if my stomach is burning with the hcl because it’s always kinda burning. I took one pill with every meal yesterday and was doing great till last night I took one with my 3rd meal and had a little burping that was kinda acidic. Is i possible I only need one pill 2 times a day? my burning is 80% better so it’s obvious I have low stomach acid. I’m excited that I will never take another ppi drug again. I have been off ppi for one week and feel better than I did 4 months ago.

    • Avatar

      Debbie – so happy you found this information!!

      If you eat a small meal or snack, or a meal without a lot of protein, you may need less HCL. You also will likely need less and less of the supplement as time progresses – because taking HCL helps promote your body to make more stomach acid on tis own.

      Continue to be flexible with the amount you take (more for big meals, and meals with a lot of protein) and don’t be afraid to lower your dose as needed. You can also look for a supplement that has fewer mg per pill (i.e. 250 mg rather than 650 mg) so that you can more easily control the size of the dose.

  54. Avatar

    hi, I have diarrhea and undigested food in stool problems. I am trying to check if I have low stomach acid. I started taking “Betaine HCl Pepsin & Gentian Bitters” with one capsule with each meal and increased day by day. Now I am taking 6 capsules and I feel nothing in my stomach. My question is should I increase dose, is it normal case or I need to stop.

    • Avatar

      Hi Mamur – we recommend trying a digestive enzyme along with HCL – a great one is Digest Gold by Enzymedica. If adding that in doesn’t make a difference, it is possible you still need a higher dose of HCL – but not everyone feels the burning feeling in their stomach. You might also notice changes in your stool, how bloated you get, and your gas. Any improvements in those areas is a sign you’ve found the right dose.

      Hope that helps!

  55. Avatar

    I don’t know if anyone can answer this. But as soon as I take Betaine HCL I get even worse bloating and bowel spasms then I already have. I literally blow up like a ballon when I take it! Does anyone know why this would happen? I have low stomach acid (I’m having metabolic/thyroid issues) and need the supplement but can’t seem to tolerate it.

    • Avatar

      Hi Emily, thanks for reaching out!

      Some people do react negatively to HCL.

      There a couple other options you can try:

      1. Try an HCL without pepsin (especially if you know you’re sensitive to pork products). You can get an HCL that is vegetarian from Moss Nutrition.

      2. Try a shot (1-2 tablespoons) of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in a glass of water before meals instead (this promotes the secretion of stomach acid)

      3. Try a digestive bitters supplement instead of HCL

      I hope one of these tips helps!

  56. Avatar

    Do you have any recommendations of a HCL supplement that are vegetarian or kosher. I believe that the Commercial preparations of Pepsin are obtained
    from hog stomach.
    Thank you

  57. Avatar

    Hi, I have a couple questions and I would appreciate some guidance. My story very breifly.. Chronic constipation, diagnosed IBS, h.plyori detected on a colonoscopy 2 years and successfully treated. It all started when I was 28 and I’m now 31 after a few years of dietary changes and many different supplements including probiotics I kind of have things under control but every now and then and lately more often I become severely bunged up and can go more than 10 days with no bowel movement. I am back to Internet research every spare second I have to try and treat my symptoms. I am currently taking Betaine hcl with pepsin in them. My problem is I have extremely slow digestion. They did some test at the hospital a few years ago and my results where outstandingly slow almost not moving at all. They gave me no reason or solution for this. I always have the feeling my food is stuck in my throat and not going down. So now while I am using these pills I feel like they are getting stuck up there too and I am worried they aren’t able to do there job properly and couldn’t cause more damage like burn my esophagus, am I right? Also my other question.. I take 2 tumeric supplements everyday to reduce inflammation and help with depression.. I read early what you said about the dangers of Betaine with NSID’s and I am wondering if this applies as tumeric is natural but still maybe damaging to the lining of my stomach?
    Any answers grately appreciated!

    • Avatar

      Hi Janine!

      Some people do have a slower rate of digestion, and HCL can help. However, if you feel like food is stuck in your throat (not sitting in your stomach) we recommend you see your doctor and ask about that symptom. An endoscopy might be a good idea to rule out anything else going on.

      We think turmeric is a great supplement and it is not an NSAID. We think it can help heal leaky gut and does not cause damage.

      Hope this helps!!

  58. Avatar

    Just my 2 cent’s worth:

    I had stomach problems for many years, to the point I became a vegetarian. That was both good and bad. It was good b/c it ended ‘sour stomach’, but bad b/c it caused my body to ‘eat itself’ due to lack of good protein intake. Then I learned about dr. Carey A. Reams’ biological ionization method of healing the liver. That is what helped me the most.

    Maybe you guys in here who want to cut-down on your digestive enzyme use would consider learning what doc Reams has to say about ‘fixing’ your liver so it produces strong bile, etc.? There are a few web sites that talk about it.

    According to doc, the top 3 needs of the human liver are:
    1. the proper amount of pure water daily,
    2. Vitamin A (e.g., carrot juice), and
    3. Usable calcium (he says there’s 7 kinds of calciums, so one needs to know which one to use under what circumstances).
    There are 5 other major needs for the human liver, which you can find out about from reading what he says in other’s books.

    Two things I found that helped me immensely are:
    1. Dr. Sandra Cabot’s “Livatone” (used w/psyllium), and
    2. Dr. Hulda Clark’s “liver flush” (http://www.drclark.net/en/cleanses/advanced/liver-cleanse-page). It’s nasty, but it worked.

    Just an FYI for those interested in learning the ‘why’ of getting better.

    Cheers! … Chris

  59. Avatar

    Awesome article! I’ve had GERD since I was 16 caused by stress. I am now 24 and still trying to find a cure for this awful feeling. My sister-in-law is a chiropractor and she mentioned that I should check out Betain HCL. I always have burning in my stomach after I eat any meal, even when I am hungry, and I wake up everyday with a burned throat even if I don’t eat within 5 hours of bed time. I don’t eat out and I generally eat healthy (eggs, chicken, fruits & veggies). I exercise 5 days a week doe at least a half an hour. I was on Omeprazole for about a year without being told by the practioner that it wasn’t something that I should be on for very long. I started to experience MAJOR joint pains, went off of Omeprazole, and the pains stopped. My reflux is at it’s worst right now which is sooo not fun!!! I started taking Betaine HCL starting with just one pill with a high protein meal and every time I have taken it I have experience more than usualy burning in my stomach. I know you say to up the dose if you don’t feel anything and take one pill back once you start to feel burning but I experience burning with just one pill. Is that normal?


  60. Avatar

    Hey I have stomach ulcers and some kind of rheumatism(joint inflammation or pain) I have been watching my diet somewhat and taking nexium 40 mg on a daily, I do not have heart burn but I do have abdominal pains bloating and brain fog, my question is how can I take hcl making sure it does not cause or makes my ulcers worse? Also I take infloran, should I keep taking it? I Don’t know if it’s enzymes or a probiotic but it says it helps reconstruct the intestine flora. Thanks I also suffer from shortness of breath and dizziness which my doctor says is because of thr ulcer. Peace thank you for doing what you do.

    • Avatar

      Hi Elle!

      First, we don’t recommend the use of HCL when you’re also taking a PPI like Nexium. PPIs reduce the amount of stomach acid you have so its counter-productive to reduce stomach acid and then supplement it. We recommend you talk to your doctor about weaning off your PPI.

      Based on what you’ve written, I recommend you take a look at Steve and Jordan’s heartburn program. In the program (once you’ve weaned off PPIs) you’ll be walked through healing any inflammation in your stomach so you can tolerate HCL and heal your digestive problems. Here’s the link: http://heartburnhelp.scdlifestyle.com

      If you have any more questions, you can email us at support@scdlifstyle.com as well!

  61. Avatar
    gwells58@yahoo.com says:

    i have multiple myeloma. to avoid taking perscription drugs for pain i take NSAIDS. Goodys powder followed in 2 hours with 1 Bayer safety coat aspirin then another about every 4 hours. to sleep, Motrin pm with a motrin gel cap. my concern is i may be damaging my stomach. i take it i should not take HCL/pepsin because of the NSAIDS?

    • Avatar

      Steve and Jordan are very wary of NSAID use. NSAIDS are shown to damage the gut and cause other long-term problems. We don’t recommend you use NSAIDS, and those using them should not use HCL unless their doctor gives them the OK and supervises them.

      We encourage you to talk with your doctor about what else you can try to manage your pain. Some options we like are physical therapy or chiropractic, acupuncture, and exercise. You’ll have to experiment to find what works best for you.

      You might want to check out this podcast, too: https://healthygut.com/2015/02/simple-neck-and-shoulder-pain-solutions/

  62. Avatar


    I have gas problems: a nutritionist I met says to take HCL 30 minutes after meals. This is impossible for me, the gas and bloating starts pretty much just a few minutes after a meal. The directions on the bottle say to take with your first bite of food, you would think this is correct because doesn’t your stomach start out acidic and then finish alkaline?

    Also, people who are vegetarian, for me usually some organic turmeric, ginger, sea salt is all I need, and food definitely needs to be cooked or steamed well with some coconut oil is fine.

    • Avatar

      Hi Mike –

      First, we don’t recommend HCL unless you’re eating a pretty substantial meal that contains protein (especially from meat) as HCL helps to digest protein.

      We do recommend you take it when you begin eating or throughout the meal (if you take a lot of capsules) rather than waiting 30 minutes after.

      Hope this helps Mike!

  63. Avatar

    I was wondering if this can be taken with digestive enzymes and artichoke extract.
    I currently have a hard time with digestion, mostly due to menopausal symptoms. I currently take artichoke extract and digestive enzymes but just wanted to know if it would be safe to also take the B hci along with. I do have a high protein diet. Thanks!

    • Avatar

      Hi Vickie, thanks so much for commenting 🙂

      We do recommend that people try digestive enzymes and HCL at the same time – they help digestion in different ways.

      If you have any concerns, however, you should always consult with your practitioner.

      Hope this helps!

  64. Avatar

    Hi Guys, I’m still trying to figure out the right amount of HCL capsules to take with various meals. I started with one 650 mg capsule and have taken as much as 7 at a protein meal. Still no burning sensation. I went to a kinesiologist and she thought I was crazy and cautioned me to only take a few at the most. I disagreed with her and that’s why I’m up to 6 or 7 today. I cautiously started a few months ago and now I’ve kind of stopped increasing them; I think I’m afraid of doing something wrong, and also thinking will I ever reach my threshold? I would have asked this question earlier today on your live call, but never got the chance, as I wasn’t back home in time. I think I’ve even taken 3 or 4 capsules at a no protein meal; also without any stomach burning sensation. Should I keep upping the capsules? Yesterday I started a probiotic with 30 billion CFU’s and 15 different strains. I’m also experimenting with DGL, enzymes, and activated charcoal for my intestinal gas. At first the HCL helped relieve the gas and bloating, but then the benefits decreased a bit lately. My bowels improved significantly which I attribute to the HCL. My A-Fib got way better for awhile; 10 weeks without it, but the month of August it was back with a vengeance. I’m thinking my bad bacteria wasn’t significantly reduced and that when I began eating some fruits and maple syrup, I brought it back. I lose weight quickly when the A-Fib hits; probably from the heart beating so violently. I’m tired of doing these diets for the past year or two and am ready to eat like a normal person but sometimes feel like I’ll never get there again. Need your input.
    Don Busch

    • Avatar

      Hi Don, thanks so much for reaching out to us.

      It sounds like you’re making some great progress. Healing isn’t always a linear journey – there can be highs and lows and long plateaus along the way.

      In Dr. Wright’s book “Why Stomach Acid is Good For You” he says 6-7 650 mg pills is the average dose – meaning a lot of people need more than 6-7 pills. Some people need much higher doses. Also some people never experience the burning sensation to let them know they’ve taken too much – in this case you need to watch for other signs of improvement to let you know you’ve reached the right dose (like less gas, bloating, better stool, etc.)

      I also really recommend you check out this program: http://heartburnhelp.scdlifestyle.com

      This program can help with using supplements like DGL.

      If you have more questions or need more support, please email us at support@scdlifestyle.com

  65. Avatar

    Here is a mullein dollar question: if you are taking probiotics after a meal (some specifically call for this timing) – are you destroying them by taking HCL? I am thinking that since its the HCL’s job to kill incoming bacteria, it would probably kill the the supplement as well?

    • Avatar

      Hi Kira, HCL doesn’t kill incoming bacteria, but rather promotes the production of stomach acid in your stomach. Bacteria is able to withstand normal stomach conditions (which proper HCL supplementation will mimic) – otherwise we wouldn’t have any bacteria left in our guts 🙂 Our digestive system is amazing and complex!

      Antibiotics that your doctor prescribes can kill friendly bacteria like probiotics, but HCL doesn’t.

      Thanks for asking 🙂

  66. Avatar

    One more question from me; Could it be possible that after many years of using
    omeprazole my stomach just stopped producing acid? And now i’m off the meds
    it’s just not making any? Sounds silly i know, but i was wondering.

  67. Avatar

    Hi all!

    I find this website very informative and i’d like to add my story.
    I had a H, Pylori when i was 20 years old and got the cure for that.
    I noticed that it wasn’t possible to stop the Losec in that time and
    my doctor said that i had to used it for the rest of my life….. Now i
    did untill i started getting problems with my health almost 15 years later.
    I am almost 35 now. I tried to stop a couple of times after i read more and
    more about Losec, (omeprazol etc) but it was a no go and no doctor really cared
    to help me anyways. Now i have asked for a Gastroscopy because i felt really bad
    and bloated etc while still using the Omeprazole,The thing is of course that i need to
    stop using the meds for 2 weeks! I don’t smoke anymore, don’t drink alcohol but i did
    pretty heavy for a while, and Always loved meat. Omeprazol is just eating so much
    energy and i feel like and old man. Got pain in my bones and its hard to stay fit like this. I have Always kept a balance with sports and the rest of my life style.
    So here i am, 4 days into not using omeprazole and suffering a lot. Food coming up sometimes, burning, losing voice a bit, scraping throat etc. I adjusted food as much
    as i could these 4 days and i’m eating pretty clean but i didn’t exclude carbs, grains etc. I don’t eat garlic, onions etc and no milk and yogurth either. Still i got mad acid going on. I was reading for 3 days about low acid and today i poored 2 Table spoons
    of apple vinegar over my salade and hoped for the best. I know i should’ve consumed it in another way but ok. I didn’t have no burnings at all and all that while i woke up today with pain and feeling that spot hurting when food entered the stomach. I wen’t to bed using Galviscon for gods sake lol. So now i want to try to use the HCL with Pepsin and enzyms but i’m a little scared hahaha. I’m ready to eat some bread now with eggs and chicken and will take a glass with 2 table spoons of apple vinegar after that just to check again. End of August i have the Gastroscopy. I’m living in Italy now but i’m from Holland and in this situation i wish i had my old doctor in Holland back lol. What do you guys think? Should i try to use the HCL with a nice protein meal?
    I also bought a another product that contains: zinc L-carnosine) (DGL) NutriCran®
    PicroProtect™ Picrorhiza kurroa extract, but i’m willing to wait with using that because
    i’m really focused on find what works and what not. It feels god to have more energy
    not using Omeprazole but if i have acid the whole day through, that energy is wasted.’
    Thanks in advance.

  68. Avatar

    I took my first Betaine HCL this morning with breakfast of an egg, bacon and melon. I took only one. Around midday my stomach began to hurt so bad and for most of the rest of the day it really hurt even though I took a Tums and later on baking soda. What do you recommend: maybe opening the capsule and emptying half of it so that I’m just taking a half and taking it with a heavier meal?

  69. Avatar

    Oh my. So a typical effective dose is 5-7 of the 650mg pills…I took ~250mg for the first time this morning with breakfast (some leftover sausage and potatoes from dinner last night plus some watermelon) and I have been having the worst GI day. So bad that I pooped my pants at the grocery. With UC/Crohn’s and histamine intolerance/mast cell activation syndrome (and no gall bladder so I know I need digestive help) I don’t know if it’s the Betaine or the leftovers that have gutted me so horribly today, but I’m afraid to take more now…

    • Avatar

      Kim, I’m so sorry you’re having such a bad GI day.

      Since you have histamine intolerance, it could have been the leftover sausage (both leftovers and processed meats are high histamine foods) that caused the flare up or the HCL.

      We recommend you follow the suggestions in our flare support program (https://healthygut.com/diarrhea-flare-support/) until you’re feeling better – then you may consider testing HCL again once your symptoms have returned to normal.

      Keep everything else exactly he same in your diet as you try HCL.

      I hope this information helps Kim! I really hope you’re feeling better soon. We recommend a funny movie and lots of rest during your flare.

  70. Avatar


    I have been taking betaine HCl with pepsin for a month and it has got rid of my nausea but i just cant seem to get rid of the lump in the throat. I was diagnosed with silent reflux. I am up to 8 tabs of 324mg but taking 9 makes me reflux so 8 it is.

    With me still getting the lump it suggests that im still refluxing and that my throat is producing excess mucus.

    Can you off any help

    • Avatar

      Hi Julian, thanks for commenting. It’s great to hear your nausea is gone 🙂

      HCL with pepsin is great first step but if you’re still having symptoms you may need to address the root causes of your reflux – I recommend you check out our heartburn presentation here: http://heartburnhelp.scdlifestyle.com

      The heartburn presentation has more diet, lifestyle, and supplement recommendations for healing issues like silent reflux.

  71. Avatar

    I have celiac disease,and have been gluten free for about 10 years. 2 weeks ago i started getting horrible stomach pain that made me sweat. I found that it happens after I eat meat. I cant seem to find a list of food to avoid or a list of foods to eat. Im so sick of this pain. Im afraid to try fish. Anyone here ok with eating chicken or fish?

  72. Avatar

    Hi I suffering Gerd,heartburn,acid reflux to much burning chest pain sore throat , and stomach pain many burps. my Cuestion is if only the meat protein is considered for taking hcl or other cains like protein shakes cuz I don’t really eat meat watch it can be there best for me if I need more stomach acid ?

    • Avatar

      Hi Klarah, thanks for commenting! The only way to know how many HCL pills to take with a meal is to test it out when you eat. Begin at the lowest dosage and work your way up. Because every meal contains a different amount of fat, protein, and carbs, you may find that at some meals you need 7 pills and at others 3 or 4 is plenty. If you have burning or a warm feeling, you have likely taken too much. The next time you eat a similar meal, take less HCL until you find the right dosage for that combination of foods. You may also consider trying digestive enzymes, as they help digest protein carbs, and fat. Learn more here: https://healthygut.com/2013/07/who-needs-digestive-enzymes-and-how-to-take-them/ I hope this helps!

  73. Avatar

    Hi, I am thinking of trying HCL because I get diarrhea after eating a large amount of protein (anything over about 3 oz)…..but at bedtime I take a prescribed heart burn medication, would that interfere with it’s benefits?

  74. Avatar

    Can I use betaine at the same time while using probitics? specifically Acidophillus 40 billion count, I am also having different yoghurts daily.
    I read in a place that Probiotics should not be used when using HCL

    • Avatar

      Hi Ayoni, thanks for reaching out today about your health. Typically, probiotics are taken on an empty stomach but we encourage you to follow the instructions on the bottle. If the bottle instructs you to take with food, this should not interfere with the effectiveness of the HCL. Secondly, we do suggest taking HCL just before a high protein meal.

    • Avatar

      Hi Joy, this is great question. Even though the bitters contain seaweed, which is SCD illegal, we recommend people who have progressed past the intro phases of the diet give it a try. SCD is about building a custom approach that works for you. I hope this helps answer your question 🙂

  75. Avatar

    Hi vry1, 1st of all i really admire jordan for his knowledge. He is awesome. Well I started taking betain hcl 2 pills after I realized that I hv low stomach acid from baking soda test results. Nw m havn dark stools (nt entirely bt few portions of my stools). Is it normal ? N hw cn I know the exact dosage? Wen I took 3 pills I got stomach pinches or burns so I started taking 2 pills.. Plzzz correct me if m wrong n clarify me on the question I raised regards stools… Thanks Jordan in advance

    • Avatar

      The only way to know the dosage you need for HCL is to test it yourself. Begin with the smallest dose and work your way up with each meal. When you feel a ‘warm” sensation in your stomach, reduce by one pill at the next meal. Stool color can be a reflection of the foods you eat, but dark stools can be a sign of other problems, as well. We recommend you consult with your doctor about the dark color of your stool.

  76. Avatar
    Josiah Keysor says:

    I have had reflux for about 10 years now. I’m 26. I started taking betaine hcl with pepsin about 2 months ago. I’ve been taking anywhere from 6-8 depending on what I eat. The problem I have is I burp alot. Like 20-30 times after each meal and lasting for 6 hours til my next meal. When I take the betaine and burp its so acidic from the betaine that I have to take an antacid to calm my stomach. Not this isn’t everyrime but some of the time. I tried a low carb diet thinking maybe sibo was causing gas but the gas got worse. Should I increase the betaine? At 8 pills I feel no warming sensation unless I burp and it brings it up.

    • Avatar

      Hi Josiah. Have you changed your diet? If you’re still following the Standard American Diet, no amount of HCL will help. We recommend you try a diet like SCD or our Solving leaky Gut program, which are more than just low-carb.
      If you’re already following a diet similar to SCD or Solving Leaky Gut but still having problems,based on our experience many people need higher doses of HCL than they expect (as high as 5,000 mg). However, some people never feel the “warm” feeling in their stomach from HCL. In that case you need to rely go your GI symptoms to determine the right dose. These include burping, bloating, farting, and stool consistency. Keep everything else the same in your diet as you wait for these indicators to change for the better. Just because you can take 20 pills, doesn’t mean you should. It could be that at 11 pills all of your problems disappear. The minimum dose of HCL to be effective is best.

  77. Avatar

    I started taking Betaine-HCl/Pepsin 3 days ago and have had some weird side effects. Since starting HCL I have been waking up in the morning congested with dark puffy eyes each morning. A weird pimply thing appeared on my face too but it’s not a pimple… I’m really enjoying the digestion benefits, I immediately felt HCL working but I’m a little nervous by these side effects.

      • Avatar

        Thanks for the feedback, this website is amazing!

        It has been a couple weeks now and I’m still taking Betaine-HCl/Pepsin. I haven’t switched brands yet but will on your suggestion. Should I try and find a pepsin free brand? My digestion issues have greatly improved so much so that I have been tolerating the side effects.

        FYI I experimented yesterday, I took no HCL pills all day went to sleep and woke up 3AM with bloating as usual without HCL. I then took 1 HCL pill with water and within 30 minutes felt the sinus issues where the back of my eye sockets feel weird, it mess with my dreams and cause me to not fully sleep, then I woke up with dark puffy eyes and congested.

        • Avatar

          Hi Adam, thanks for commenting!

          When choosing a Betaine HCL supplement it’s important to choose one that includes pepsin. It’s assumed by the medical research that when supplementing with HCL you need to supplement with pepsin. That is why most Betaine HCL supplements you’ll find include it and Dr. Wright recommends it.

          All the following brands are SCD Legal:

          Now Betaine HCL

          TwinLab Betaine HCL

          Thorne Research Betaine HCL

          You shouldn’t take Betaine HCl on an empty stomach or with a meal that doesn’t contain protein. You can read more here: https://healthygut.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

          • Avatar

            Thanks again for the feedback, I wasn’t sure about taking HCL on an empty stomach or not. It definitely helps my bloating when taken on an empty stomach which I don’t understand since there is no food in my stomach that needs acid to digest… I’ll just stick to taking with food for now.

          • Avatar

            I decided to try TwinLab Bentaine HCL from the list that you posted and have been taking the new pills for a week now. I haven’t had the negative side effects in my sinuses that I had with the other brand form my local health food store. Thanks for getting my on the right track.

  78. Avatar

    I’ve been taking betadine hcl after a naturopath recommended it to me. I have no appetite for meat, have been blessed with vitiligo and have never had heartburn in my life. I’m having a hard time with the dosage though. I’ve taken up to 10 pills at a time and still don’t feel the “burn”. Could it be that my stomach acid Is that low? Should I keep increasing my dose?


    • Avatar

      Hi Stacey, thanks for commenting. Dr. Wright reports that the common Betaine HCL dosage range in his clinical practice is 3,250-4,550mg per meal. That means there are also plenty of people who need above 5,000mg for an effective dosage. Remember a normal functioning stomach is capable of producing and handling extreme acid ranges. If your dosage starts getting extremely high without any GI distress, you must use your GI symptoms as a guide instead. These include burping, bloating, farting, and stool consistency. Keep everything else the same in your diet as you wait for these indicators to change for the better. Just because you can take 20 pills, doesn’t mean you should. It could be that at 11 pills all of your problems disappear. For this group of people try to find the minimum dose needed to help your GI symptoms.

  79. Avatar

    I have had digestive issues for years. I have tried slippery elm, probiotics, digestive enzymes , glutamine , been to numerous doctors had a hiatus hernia repair and then 6 months ago had my gallbladder out. The docs tell me I have too much acid but I tend to disagree. I wake every morning with nausea and decided to try hci today. I felt my heartburn go and my stomach discomfort. I hope this is a change for me and pray I can finally be normal. How long do I stay on them and do I need to do any gut healing products as well?

  80. Avatar

    Since starting Betaine-HCl/Pepsin, the often annoying latchkey or running water urgency has become more acute and painful and sometimes causes mini-incontinence. It is more burning urgency than before. What does that indicate–too much, too little, wrong supplement? Thanks.

  81. Avatar

    Great article!! I can take hcl with major success but I keep reading about having to take pepsin with hcl. However whenever I do take hcl with pepsin added I get heartburn and my stomach swells. Does this mean i’m sensitive to pepsin? I’ve tried a couple of good quality brands. Anyone else been through this? Could it be I just have low stomach acid but my pepsin is ok?


    • Avatar

      Hi Aisha, go ahead and consume the HCl with out the pepsin and see how you do. If this works for you, then stick with that product vs the HCL with pepsin. You may not be consuming enough protein when you take the HCL with pepsin, so you can also try this route as well.

  82. Avatar

    Hi, I’ve been taking omeprazole for a little over a year and a half now and am really wanting to be done with it. My last few attempts have failed, and I realize I need to ween off it slowly. I want to use HCL supplements to take the place of omeprazole, but is it dangerous to take them at the same time? One is acid, the other blocks it. Is it safe to take HCL as I slowly ween off omeprazole? I feel like the natural treatment should already be in place as I get rid of the artificial one.

  83. Avatar

    I read that pepsin supplements are not vegetarian (they are derived from the lining of pig stomach). If I can only take the HCl without pepsin, will I still get some benefits? Are there vegetarian alternatives?

  84. Avatar

    Can anyone tell me if Lialda is a corticosteroids (e.g., Prednisone), aspirin, Indocin, ibuprofen (e.g., Motrin, Advil), or other NSAID? They say it’s mesalamine, but unfortunately, I don’t know what that means. I started taking Betaine, but am wondering if I’m doing more harm than good.

  85. Avatar
    Cindy Ostrom says:

    I need help with HCL. At one point I was up to 10 HCL with protein meals and no burning or discomfort. Then I read that you never really need more than about 5. With leaky gut, I would assume taking all of this acid could hurt me rather than help in the long run plus I am now having trouble swallowing them for some reason. The other day they got stuck in my throat and I was choking. Any other options? How about using ACV before meals instead or digestive bitters? I would really like your thoughts on this. I know how to test by increasing a pill etc and was told about 20 years ago that I have low stomach acid so I know it is an issue for me most definitely. Thank you.

    • Avatar

      Hi Cindy, It’s very common for people to stop short of their needed Betaine HCL dosage. In fact, in the beginning I was nervous about taking 6 pills at a meal. But trust me. there is nothing to worry about. Dr. Wright reports that the common Betaine HCL dosage range in his clinical practice is 3,250-4,550mg per meal. That means there are also plenty of people who need above 5,000mg for an effective dosage.

      Remember a normal functioning stomach is capable of producing and handling extreme acid ranges. If your dosage starts getting extremely high without any GI distress (step #3), you must use your GI symptoms as a guide instead. These including burping, bloating, farting, and stool consistency. Keep everything else the same in your diet as you wait for these indicators to change for the better. Just because you can take 20 pills, doesn’t mean you should. It could be that at 11 pills all of your problems disappear. For this group of people try to find the minimum dose needed to help your GI symptoms and for peat sakes go get more testing to figure out what is going on!”

      You can view the full article here: https://healthygut.com/2012/03/how-to-supplement-with-betaine-hcl-for-low-stomach-acid/

  86. Avatar

    I have been having break out of hives every time I eat. It’s worst at night. I can’t go without antihistamine before every meal. I am so frustrated with this lifestyle. I only eat greens and seafood. I don’t eat any meat. I was diagnosed with endometriosis, it’s very painful. I think I have candida so I don’t eat anything with sugar. Even with my diet change and juicing I am still breaking out. I am convinced I have leaky gut. Do you think I will benefit if I started taking Betaine HCL with pepsin? I need a miracle.

  87. Avatar

    After taking omeprazole and protonix(not at the same time) for a about 6 weeks in the fall – I developed extremely dry and weak hair and right after starting protonix I started bloating – not distension – just a tight feeling that has not gone away. This has been since December. It was so tight at one point that I couldnt’ even take a deep breath. Has anyone else experience anything like this? I’m assuming it’s from my stomach acid being lowered too much? I started Swedish bitters a week ago – the tightness has eased up a lot but still having some bloating. anyone have any experience using bitters? I read it can take some time to completely get rid of symptoms. I tried hcl at first but just didn’t want to take all of the pills LOL

  88. Avatar

    I have rheumatoid arthritis and react to dairy with an RA flare. I weaned myself off Nexium and started taking the Betaine HCL. It triggered a really bad flare. Are there any non-dairy options? Thanks!

  89. Avatar

    I take curcumin supplements daily and recently started betaine HCL also. I read that betaine HCl should not be taken with anti-inflammatory drugs, but what about with curcumin as a natural anti-inflammatory supplement? Am I causing more damage than good?

  90. Avatar

    I started taking HCL and had some unexpected positive results. Within 2 days, the stuffy nose and full ears I’ve had for over 4 years started to clear up! (perhaps low acid = open les and congesrion so more acid = closed les) Woohoo! Cant wait to see if my dental health improves. Years of emergency room visits and doctors appointments kept telling me to reduce acid with omepr. and it’s sites like this that are really helping people challenge traditional thought and get to the root cause of problems. Thank you!!

  91. Avatar

    HELP! I’ve been taking ungodly amounts of Zantac (150 mg) each day for the past several years and by ungodly I mean 4-5 150 mg pills two or three times a day. And when those didn’t work I would have to do a PPI -ridiculous I know-but it’s the only thing that was working-until recently I noticed that my stomach constantly had a gnawing burn right below the breast bone, constant bloating and burping after meals and the works. I have cut my zantac usage to two pills a day and have been doing 4 Hcl w Pepsin with most meals that are higher protein and then 1-2 with snacks with no issues. I am also taking gastrazyme and super enzymes with meals as well. So I can tell they are working because I am not getting the burn right after I eat a big meal but I AM still getting the knotted gnawing lumpy feeling burning right below my breast bone and feels like it’s in my throat a couple of hours after I eat. Should this reflux’y’ feeling eventually go away (for good) with continued regular use of these supplements or am I missing something? I just feel like the supplements are only.keeping me pain free for a few hours and then the reflux is right back. Any help or advice is greatly appreciated!

    • Avatar

      Hi Aprille, thanks for reaching out! It is necessary to address these underlying issues with dietary changes in addition to supplements and lifestyle changes. We suggest starting with a diet such as the SCD diet or our Solving leaky gut program to work on the dietary part first. If you are interested, you can read more here: solvingleakygut.com

  92. Avatar

    Hello again! I just worlen myself up to 22 pills of 325mg solgar with pepsin.. nothing major happened besides had to run to the toilet in middle of dinner.. lose.. then abit dizzyness but also not major at all.. no burning sensation anywhere yet. Do i dare take more? Regards

    • Avatar

      Hi Marco, thanks for reaching out! Sorry to hear that you’re having a difficult time. Keep in mind that just because you can take that many pills without burning, doesn’t mean it’s necessary. Perhaps, give some of the brands we recommend a try: Like Thorne or NOW. Additionally, keep in mind that you might have some root causes that only proper testing can show and if you want help there, we recommend working with a skilled Functional Medicine Practitioner like those here: https://healthygut.com/practitioners/

      • Avatar

        Hi. Thank you for the reply! Much appreciated. Yes I will def. try the other brands and also would love to get professional help.. I live in Finland and hope it will work for me to work from here. I will check it all out. Cheers!

  93. Avatar

    Hi everyone! I am asking for guidance. Ive been dealing with candida and eczema and realize that i am not digesting properly.. the eczema has been quite severe and maybe due to leaky gut aswell? I feel they are all linked. I seem to get the candida in control but only off and on but the eczema continues. I notice that when I eat I get bloated and belch food smells all the time and super gasy aswell. I cant even drink a green smoothie without feeling getting like this. Sometimes even if I only drink chaga pr take a spoon of manuka honey i still belch. So started trying 325mg with pepsin. I took with my breakfast 11 pills of these and NOTHING. Still belch and bloated and no burning sensation at all. Whats recommened? Do I dare increase the dos? Any reply much appreciated. Best Regards

  94. Avatar

    I’ve taken betaine HCL (w/pepsin) for years, until about 10 days ago. While it seemed like it was helping my digestion, in the long run, turns out it was not.

    Adding a lot of chloride to one’s system causes it to become very acidic, which will then deplete minerals in an effort to alkalize the body. I wish I had known this 7-8 years ago.

    So I disagree w/Dr. Wright — taking that much betaine HCL is not a good idea, at least not for more than perhaps a year or so. It’s important to address the causes of low stomach acid, rather than applying a bandaid that may only make things a lot worse.

    Also, I’d be curious if you have a reference or study that shows that bitters “can restore normal stomach acid production in some cases.”

    Thank you.

    • Avatar

      Hi Dan, thanks for reaching out! You are correct in that we need to address the underlying causes of low stomach acid first to get to the root of the issue. Secondly, we should be addressing low HCl with diet and lifestyle changes as well to effectively restore the balance.

  95. Avatar


    I’m experimenting with the correct dosage of HCl and I’ve read the HCl guidelines article (thanks for that info). I’m curious if the “burning feeling” of too much HCL could also feel like slight heartburn and not just a warm stomach sensation?

    Also – are Steve or Jordan located in Boulder, CO and available for new clients?

    Thanks – this website has been very helpful


  96. Avatar


    My name is David and I had taken PPi’s for about 3 years off and on never really gave me much relief. I then decided to try the betaine hcl in January and worked very well for me until about July. 4-5 capsules is what worked well. In July everything came back and I started to have bad throat symptoms again. I have not gotten it under control since. Can you build up a tolerance to these or a certain brand? I tried to lower my dose thinking maybe i didnt need as much anymore but that did not help. I have the lpr problems in my throat no heartburn if that helps. Can you build up a tolerance and possibly need to take more to help me out? Can you build up a tolerance to the brand i was taking? Thanks!

    • Avatar

      Alexa, thank you for reaching out! Yes, the goal is to eventually have your body begin to product the proper HCL. You may begin to feel some uncomfortable symptoms, such as a slight burning, and this can be a sign for you to back off by 1 pill.

  97. Avatar

    hi everyone , I am 62 years old and have had acid reflux, diarrhea, bloating for over 20 years. I had to plan restroom stops on just short trips on 50 km. I could not eat hot dogs, ketchup, mustard, onions at all. After most meals at restaurants I had to find a restroom within 20 mins or I would be in serious trouble. I would buy tums, alka selzer, have prescriptions from doctors who diagnosed me with to much stomach acid and would take these for years. When I thought I was having a heart attach (probably 6 times) I would go to the hospital to find out it was severe acid reflux. They would give me a pink lady and send me home. My wife was reading the book from Suzanne Somer (sexy forever) and in the book they described the low stomach acid (hydrochloric Acid) and there is a supplement, Bentine HCL . I started taking it a month ago and the first time I took it I could tell the difference with my system. I take 3 pills (500mg each) at every meal. It is amazing, I feel so good, I can eat anything with no acid reflux and absolutely no diarrhea. This is magical for me and especially my with as she now can cook foods that used to give me a rough time on a regular basis. I can now enjoy a $1.49 hot dog at Costco. I can not believe Doctors could not steer me in the right direction with this problem. by prescribing antacids they were making my problem worse.

  98. Avatar

    Hi, I’m 36, and I have suffered with indigestion for years now.
    I have also had extreme uncontrollable fatigue or tiredness since I was a young child, now my daughter, 10, has had the same problems. I recently noticed that I have a lot of the symptoms of low acid after reading an article in the local paper in October. I had 2 in depth sleep studies earlier this year and they found nothing wrong, so my doctor decided that I must be depressed and put me on an antidepressant that didn’t help so she put on another type of antidepressant in which I still haven’t had any symptom relief of my tiredness and I’m quite frustrated. I really don’t feel like I need to be on an antidepressant. I feel like my doctor has let me down by not doing more tests or research and that she’s taking the easy way out of helping me.
    My question is, can I take HCL with Pepsin or something like it with an antidepressant? and how old should one be before starting it? Please Help, if you can! Thank you!!

    • Avatar

      with all those tests, have you been tested for hypothyroid or Hashimoto’s? If not, I would recommend you asking your doctor to check TSH, T4, T3 AND Thyroglobulin Antibodies as well as Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TGA and TPA) … I went through the entire gamut of indigestion, weight gain, fatigue, no energy, sleepiness and no get-up-and-go; was also diagnosed with depression and given anti-depressants, none of which helped. I finally ended up (thankfully) with an alternative holistic MD, who ordered those tests and was found out to have Hypothyroid as well as Hashimoto’s, which is an auto-immune dis-ease. I know it’s getting frustrating, but perhaps you will find some answers if you have your thyroid checked…

  99. Avatar

    Hi, I just started taking Betaine HCL tablets for my acid reflux and they seem to work, relieving me of my frequent throat clearing due to post-nasal drip. I’m just wondering, how long are you suppose to take it for? Do you taper it prior to discontinuing? Thanks

    • Avatar

      Hi Ruel, thank you for reaching out. Once your body begins to make it’s own adequate HCL, you may start to feel a burning sensation with your current dose. It is then time to back off by one tablet and continue to do this until you no longer need to supplement with HCL.

      • Avatar

        I can’t find the Betaine HCl with pepsin, the pepsin (30mg) is being sold in a tablet incorporated with some digestive enzymes (Pancreatin 130mg, papain, ox bile extract and amylase)Does this mean that if I’m taking 4 tabs of Betaine HCl I also need to take the same number of pepsin tabs?
        Thanks again

  100. Avatar

    Hi, I have a persistent nasty taste in my mouth and have visited all sorts of doctors who can find nothing wrong apart from a very slight hiatus hernia. I have now found that low stomach acid could be the answer. I found some info on the web to say that you can do a simple test which involves drinking sodium bicarbonate and seeing if you burp afterwards. Well, I drank and I didn’t burp at all. So maybe I need Betane Hydrochloride. I have tried to buy some today but it is not available and no one in London seems to have heard of it.
    Can you give me some advice on where to purchase it and the sort of dose that I should take please.
    Many thanks

  101. Avatar

    Hi I just started talking betaine hcl with pepsin. I had horrible intestinal gas after taking 1. Kept with the increase of dosing at each meal to fund the correct dosage but I still have gas afterwards. My bloating had decreased significantly. Is it a common symptom to have intestinal gas when taking it or is it a sign to stop. I’m also on the gaps healing diet and supllementing with probiotics in the am and pm as I’ve noticed things have stopped working. Appreciate your advice

  102. Avatar

    Been experimenting with Betaine HCL for a year. I can take it on an empty stomach and feel nothing. With a high protein meal I can tolerate up to 26 pills. I have never had reflux in my life, but definately have low stomach acid. It takes 20 pills of HCL to even have reflux and sometimes I will vomit. Could I be Achlorydic and needing a much higher dose. Some people report no response in digestion until much higher than the recommend maximum dosage. Any advice?

    • Avatar

      Hi Zach, thank you for reaching out! It would be a great idea to work with a practitioner, as it is always a good idea to have somebody help lead you on this journey and oversee your health decisions. If you are in need of one, you can search here: https://healthygut.com/practitioners/ As the article says, many will need to take a high dose of HCL and we encourage you to keep finding that right dose and sticking with the process.

  103. Avatar

    Hi why is that people with candida or microbe bacteria have low stomach acid but the SCD states that we can digest protein ok. But people with low stomach acid do not have enough acid to digest protein properly…can ayone help with this, i just don’t understand.

    • Avatar

      Hi Claire, thank you for reaching out! While the SCD diet recommends meat to heal the gut, this does not necessarily mean that everyone can digest meat perfectly and this is why we direct people to test their HCL levels. As you have mentioned, this is a very important part to digestive health and specifically, the digestion of meat.

  104. Avatar

    I took one betaine HCl with pepsin with food and became extremely ill. Within an hour I vomitted twice (no food, just bile) and then experience severe dry heaving. No stomach pain or discomfort just extremely nauseous and overall feeling horrible. What does this mean?

  105. Avatar

    Jordan, Lori, or Brent a few questions. I’ve got pretty bad GERD right now and severe motion sickness at times.

    1. I feel nauseous in the mornings when I wake up, should I be taking Betaine at night? The above guide says to not take it on an empty stomach, namely right before bed, so I am unsure of how to proceed.

    Should I avoid it in the evening? Or should I take 1 pill and try it out? Or should I eat a little protein and take it right before I sleep? I’m tempted to do it and if I feel bad, take baking soda.

    2. If I have taken 2 pills at 650 mg with Pepsin (I am using the NOW brand) and still get nausea after meals, along with burping, that means that I should be taking more pills right? The other page indicated that 5-7 is normal.

    On that note, I will be switching to a brand with 325 mg of Betaine HCL with 82 mg of Pepsin, so I guess I should double the pill recommendations. That works out to 10-14 I guess. In a way, the 325 mg version may be better as it allows for more “fine tuning” if an odd number is best. It’s the Swanson brand.

    3. After a meal, if I get nausea or the intense desire to use the bathroom to excrete, and my stomach is full, should I take another capsule? Sometimes, I find myself burping after meals. I am trying to fine-tune my intake.

    4. I’ve been eating lots of salt as well – in an attempt to give my body more chlorine. Is this a good idea?

    5. I frequently feel very thirsty – I will be trying to get my hands on some bone broth (going to be getting some next weekend). Should I be drinking water a lot? I’m afraid I will dilute my stomach even more if I drink water.

    Thanks a lot.

    I’ve order some Prescript Assist, and I’ll report back on how that ends up. People have said good things about that probiotic and I’ve heard some people like the one from Klaire Labs one as well.

  106. Avatar

    Very helpful article, thank you!

    I seem to fit the symptoms for low stomach acid (after ruling out H Pylori and common food intolerances). What tipped me off – apart from bloating, gas, and antacids making my symptoms worse – is that enteric coated pills dissolve in my stomach. Their coating is designed to survive the acidic environment of the stomach, and only dissolve in an alkaline environment (i.e. your small intestine). However when I take enteric coated peppermint oil, I can feel the mint in my throat almost instantly.

    I’ve just started taking Betaine HCL with Pepsin, 3 x 325mg per high protein meal. Today is Day 3. As soon as I take it, it makes me bloat badly! However, there is no burning sensation so I don’t believe I’m overdoing it with the acid. Is bloating normal at first? Has anyone else experienced this?

    • Avatar

      Hey Natasha,

      I find that when I eat betaine capsules, for a few minutes, I get nausea. I don’t get bloating, but nausea. Then it subsides, and I can eat normally.

      When I eat, I no longer experience any bloating.

      Now here’s the scary part. You might need more than 3 capsules. Try adding 1 more capsule a day and seeing if the bloating intensifies or if it gets better. Everyone seems to be different.

      • Avatar

        Thanks for your reply Chris! I increased my dose with each meal to see what would happen, and got up to 8 x 520mg capsules (switched to a higher concentration brand). No burning, just increased bloating. I don’t think I can handle trying any more capsules, or I just might pop! It’s so bad I can’t breathe, and doesn’t subside for hours. Anything I eat afterwards also makes the bloating worse.

        Hmm, there must be something more to the story… Will definitely post back here if I get to the bottom of it. Glad it’s working for you!

          • Avatar

            Hi Brent,

            Thanks for your suggestion! I use Thorne Research which is indeed derived from a porcine source, however I definitely don’t have a pork allergy (or any known allergy to anything). I’m quit a big pork fan. Mystery!

            Update in terms of my stomach acid: I did a Gastro String Test after stimulation with a protein meal, and the pH colour indicated a neutral environment: pH7 on a scale of 0 – 13.

            You’d think the acid would be helping me! My sleuthing continues…

        • Avatar

          Hi Natasha,
          This is a really old thread, but I’ve just started with Betaine HCl and your reactions reflect mine, so I’m wondering if you learned anything or had anything work for you since 2014?
          My usual IBS symptoms are chronic constipation and major, essentially permanent bloat. I also have GERD. Baking soda test gives no burps, PPIs seems to make things worse, but so far, I haven’t felt any difference taking Betaine HCl, except more and more bloating. I can also take 9 with no burning.

  107. Avatar


    I have been suffering for almost two years with chronic belching and constipation the main problem is my sensitive gut! I have tried everything possible but i can’t seem to conquer what is causing my belching after food.. I can’t swallow capsules or pills so would it be as effective if I took digestive bitters?

    Lemonade sometimes helps with soothing the gas in my stomach at times and aloe vera juice and fennel seeds.. However when I suffer bad nothing seems to work!! 🙁

    I feel very helpless at the moment :/

    Any guidance/advice would be much appreciated.

    Thank you


    • Avatar

      Hi Katrina,

      Thanks for reaching out! Sorry to hear that you’re having such a difficult time right now. Digestive bitters are good… go ahead and give them a try. Apple cider vinegar helps too.

      Have you tried swallowing your pills/capsules with your food? This works really well for me as they slide right down and eliminates the need to drink large amounts of water during or right after a meal.

      Hope that helps!

  108. Avatar

    Thank you so much for this amazing information. I just started the diet and I’m seeing results already. Taking out sugars, raw veggies, and carbs have done wonders. I’ve been advocating the diet to anyone and everyone lately!
    What I don’t understand though is that I was able to digest salads just fine before I was put on prilosec but now if I even have one bite of a raw vegetable, I get severe bloating/aching. But the chicken soup recipe is digested great. My question is, will my gut improve over time to be able to digest raw vegetables again or is hcl needed? I’m sure the whole time my problem was lack of stomach acid despite the guessing game of the doctors.

    • Avatar

      Hi Taylor, thank you for reaching out! The overall goal is for the gut to heal and for you to be able to taper down on the HCL. As your gut begins to heal, you will need less and less of the HCl supplements. You are doing a great job!

  109. Avatar

    Hi, this is such a helpful site, thank you! I began taking HCL about a week ago so I haven’t figured out my perfect dosage yet. I also take DGL before my meals and a pro-biotic. I am worried because I my bm’s are irregular now. first I had trouble going (constipated) then I had 1 super bm and now I think I am constipated again. I drink plenty of water. Today is what worried me most, I believe I saw blood in my stool. Not the kind from hemorrhoids (I suffered from that 9 years ago with my 2d child). This seemed to be different. I am not currently having hemorrhoids. I do have a doc appt but its 2 weeks away and then I will still need a referral with a gastroenterologist which will take more time. should I stop taking the HCL??? maybe just take less of it? I was on omeprazol for about 3 months then I stopped and my symptoms got much worse-thats when I found this site and started the HCL etc. Please help!

    • Avatar

      Hi Melissa, thank you for reaching out! It seems as though you need to look into a diet to heal your gut for the issues you are experiencing. It is also a great idea to work with a practitioner so they can help you with your health decisions. As far as the HCL goes, we have seen great results with people finding the correct dosage and sticking with it.

  110. Avatar

    Hi- If I’m eating a whey or brown rice or Vega protein shake for breakfast that has 15-30g of protein, do I need to still take this with my shake? Is it only anminal protein I need to take it or any protein?

    • Avatar

      Hi Laura, thanks for reaching out! If you’ve already started SCD, we suggest to wait about 30 days to begin testing any protein powders. They all fall into a grey zone so you are going to have to test them for yourself. You definitely want to find a safe zone before adding in any of these questionable foods, though. As for taking Betaine HCl, our articles and research is based on eating meat-based protein sources.

  111. Avatar

    Hi, I have a small hiatus hernia, mild gastritis and multiple diverticular in my colon. I do not have heartburn/gerd and never had diverticulosis – my only symptoms are a sluggish bowel and extreme bloating that doesn’t alter with/without food and any number of alternative meds I have chosen. I am not gluten intolertate or have H P. My doc thinks it’s anxiety, but I’m not sure though the only time I do ‘de-bloat’ is on holiday when I usually eat/drink myself silly. I’ve read that any one of the three issues first mentioned can cause bloating, but which of the three is the main culprit I do not know. I’m now building up my HCL/Pepsin pills, up to 4 now with each protein meal with no obvious benefits yet. Am I doing the right thing or is there something else I should try? Thanks.

  112. Avatar

    Jordan & Steve
    Thank you for the very informative article. I have been on omeprazole for longer than I care to admit and Im very angry with my doctors (for numerous reasons) for refilling my scripts for so long. I had NO clue that so many other ailments could be caused by improper gut pH. Thats another issue.
    My question is concerning NSAIDs and HCL. Does Dr. Wright assert that NSAIDs and HCL are 100% incompatible at all times or rather they be taken at widely different intervals. I was taking at least 1 800mg Ibuprofen per day for severe back pain.
    Have you heard of any interaction problems with tramadol (ultram) and HCL ? thank you.

    • Jordan Reasoner

      Hi Dale, thanks for reaching out!

      He doesn’t say that they are completely incompatible in his book “Why Stomach Acid is Good For You.”

      He says work with a practitioner because he’s seen it be very helpful, but there are risks.

  113. Avatar
    suzannejackson says:


    Can Someone tell me how long you have to use the Betaine HCL before you feel a benefit, is it immediately after the first meal or does it take a few days – weeks?


  114. Avatar
    Alexandre Gauthier says:

    Hi Thank you for your Post ! It is better to take Betaine HCL 2hours After Meals Or Before Eating? I Feel Better by Taking them At the start Of The Meal. From Now Betaine + Probiotics + Reducing Grains Helped me alot in general. More Energy And I Gained Pounds it Very Impressive How It Works !

  115. Avatar

    Hi Jordan,

    I eat mostly vegetarian, but I think with the split peas, black beans, egg whites … I eat that I am over the 15 g threshold per most meals. I take enzymes for the carbs but still feel like my food sits heavy in my stomach for a long time, so should I try HCL supplementation?


  116. Avatar


    I am really hoping someone can help me. I really want to try hcl with pepsin, but I am not sure where I fit in. I do not eat meat and I understand where pepsin is derived from. I am okay with that, but I still don’t want to eat meat in a meal. So, a couple of questions about how and if I can take it.
    1) Do you only take it when you are having either a high fat meal or a meal with minimum 15g of protein?

    2) The whole NSAID thing – What about for someone who takes Advil occasionally for headache/migraine. I never take Advil on an empty stomach as it is, but I am not a daily NSAID user. Can I still take HCL and if so, can I still take Advil when needed?

    3) I have only been back on the PPI for a few weeks. Is it best to stop the PPI before trying HCL?

    I really hope someone can help me – I am also looking into histamine intolerance/leaky gut. As it is I just started liquid fish oil and glutamine. I am about to try histDAO and Goldenseal Root (Berberine) recommended by a functional medicine doctor.


    • Avatar
      Kay says: